sometimes i remember. i remember why i started this whole thing. today was one of those days. boil away all the theology, all the atonement theories, all the adiaphora–call it simple, oversimplified, but it’s true. i love jesus. it’s why i’m a priest. it’s an irrational, child-like love. and so when i wash the feet of my parishioners, when i make eucharist with them and when i strip the altar bare–something happens.
liturgy, at its best, allows us to fully enter into life with christ. it’s not about play acting, although it is theatrical. liturgy is a way into the world of the sacred and holy. god’s time is not like our time–the fullness of time has yet to be revealed–and when we do liturgy, when we really do church, good church, we enter into god’s time, where jesus is fully present.
and so when i wash the altar, which represents jesus himself, when i strip it bare and wash it as a body before burial, something happens. something changes in me.
tonight i found myself done with all i had to do–the stripping was over, the washing was done, and yet–i could not leave. i couldn’t leave the altar. so i leaned over and kissed the altar (not an uncommon practice) and found my head resting on it, in front of all the people. i just stood there with my forehead pressed against the altar. it was strangely profound. and it broke my heart because i knew, i know, in my ousia, in my being, that i have to leave, that i have to let him go, to do the work that he has come here to do.
i guess that’s why i’m a priest, not that this love is exclusively priestly, but for me, it is why i’m a priest. this irrational, insane love affair with jesus of nazareth. i’ve had it for as long as i can remember. i’ve tried to love others, but it always comes back to him. and tonight he sits in the garden and waits for the betrayer to come, while i sit at home in my comfy chair. strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. tomorrow will come when it will. but tonight my heart is broken.