Today is Good Friday. It is the day that, nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus died on the Cross. At His death, the earth shook. The dead walked out of their graves. And the curtain in the Temple - the heavy drape that separated the Holy from the Most Holy Place - tore in two.
And we've been trying to mend it ever since.
I think it was this torn curtain, more than anything, that shook our sense of God that day. Even more than the empty grave, it was this torn curtain that taught us something new about God. The grave...it doesn't require anything from us, except perhaps to believe. The curtain...it requires a lot.
Man thought he had God figured out. He thought, under the Law, that he knew what God required of him. It was all spelled out right there. Man had spent thousands of years trying to get the law right, trying to work out the kinks, trying to figure out how to live. And then the curtain tears, and it's not just that man is welcome into a new place, the Most Holy Place. It's that man can now see that place at all.
And here's the scandal of it: The Most Holy Place is the place where God has dwelt among His people. It's the place where God has truly lived, in smoke and fire, in cloud and fog. After all this time that man has spent trying to figure God out, all these understandings man has finally come to, all that man finally thinks he knows, the Most Holy Place mocks him. Because it reveals how God has truly lived among His people.
Which has so little to do with Law and everything to do with Love.
As if the example of Jesus isn't enough, man can now see the Throne of Mercy. He can now see how mercy finds it place above the Law, which is tucked away in an Ark. He can see how the angels guard mercy, but it is mercy that guards the Law. It shakes everything we thought we knew. It shakes everything we've been working toward.
And it's easier to sew a new curtain than it is to live a new life.
It's easier to find a way to tuck God back into that box, into that secret, Most Holy place, and to leave Him there. It's easier to find a way when we think about it to be drawn back to law, back to right and wrong, yes and no, black and white. Thou shalt not.... Thou shalt not....
Thou shalt not.
It's harder when God becomes Love. Love is...messy. It's hard. And we see that when the curtain is torn. We see how messy love really is when we see the place that Love has been living for so long. It's not so easy any more. God desires love, but...what is love? It's not law. It's not right and wrong, yes and no, black and white.
It's shades of grey and drops of blood. It's beads of sweat and streams of tears. It's mercy. And..it's messy.
We spend so much time trying to mend the curtain, like something's gone terribly wrong here in the Temple. But it is God who desired that we finally see the Most Holy Place. It is God who wanted us to see what He really looks like, living among us. It is God who tore the curtain, from the top down. So isn't it time we put down our needle and thread and open our eyes? Isn't it time we look at see what God Among Us really looks like?
Isn't it time we put the Law back in its place - tucked safely under mercy - and start figuring out what Love looks like? Sunday's a-comin'. Isn't it time we get Love right?