Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lent - dealing with the "ugliness" of our reality (Isaiah 53:3-4)

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 53:3-4 (TM) – larger reading Isaiah 53:1-12
He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried - our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.

C.S. Lewis: For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life--namely myself. . . In fact, the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. . . But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is in anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again.

There is no other way to say it – sin is ugly, it distorts reality, twists the soul and leaves one ugly mess where once there existed something good. Little wonder that Isaiah describes the Messiah as one from whom “people turned away” from because he had taken on our ugliness.

We kid ourselves into believing that no one will know, that we are better than others, that we have nothing to confess, that we live above the fray, that our faults are not so bad, that we haven’t done anything for which we should ask for forgiveness. We are just one ugly mess of confusion.

Sir Walter Scott said it best: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive! Deceive? We deceive ourselves into thinking that we can just move on, that everything will just continue like it always has, that nothing really changes, that it will be business as usual. Truly, oh what tangled web we weave…

Our Lenten journey takes us on a long introspective journey where the cobwebbed encased corners of our souls are brought into the light of Christ. We are exposed. Uncomfortable? Oh, my yes. We don’t like looking at ourselves. We would much preferred to cover up our ugliness, our sinful tendencies, our real selves. We start believing the outward picture we show the world keeping the ugly part buried in the deeper recesses of our spirit.

Maybe that’s why we don’t like silence. Silence plays with our psychic inner being. Yet, it is in the silence that God’s whisper speaks the loudest. It is in the solitude that we face our real self and our ugliness is revealed.

Lent is meant to be a time where we are alone with God. It is a time of silence… a noisy silence…


I’m afraid of silence. I’m afraid of loneliness. I’m afraid that I might have to finally deal with the demons of my reality. I really would prefer not to face the ugliness of my life. God, I would much prefer that you handle this “stuff” some other way. Yet, God, we are on this Lenten journey together, and my ugliness is before me… so we might as well deal with it today than put it off again. Boy, am I really a mess!

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