Fleeing Christ

Behold the Man upon a cross,

My sin upon His shoulders.

Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice

Call out among the scoffers.

Two years ago on Easter weekend, I participated in what has become a yearly observance at my home church in California: a day of mourning on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the day when the disciples had no idea what the heck had just happened and no notion of what lay ahead in the days (and centuries) to come. All they knew was what they had seen: the One they had followed was gone. All they had staked their life upon had, quite literally, expired.

On that Saturday, my home church clears out all the seats in the sanctuary so it is simply a vast, open space lit only by candles. Six stations are available for you to move through at your own pace. On this day of mournful identification with the disciples in their grief, the first place you stop is a remembrance station. Here, you take a colored stone from a vase, sit with it in your hand as you contemplate Christ and what His life has meant to you, and then cast the stone into a bowl of water. The second station is a confession booth, where elders and pastors receive your words of contrition and offer the liberation of absolution. Yet another station provides a table covered in mural paper, as well as crayons; you draw what your words cannot express. The final station is a large wooden cross draped in red cloth, planted center stage, where you grieve the loss of Christ and the terrible crucifixion He endured.

I know it's a strange time to be talking about Easter, it being November and all, but as I sang the words to the hymn quoted above at church last night, I was reminded of one particular station I visited on that Saturday two years ago, the sin that was revealed to me in that place, and how closely I still abide it.

At the particular station I'm talking about, we were asked to put ourselves into the shoes of one of the followers of Jesus, encouraged to really try to capture the thoughts, feelings, doubts, regrets, and grief they may have been carrying around in their hearts on "the day after." We were to write those impressions on one side of a piece of paper, then turn the paper over to journal our response and reflections on that experience, speaking to how it became personal.

I chose Peter. The one who loved Jesus fiercely but ran away in the eleventh hour. The one who correctly called Jesus the Christ but then denied having had anything to do with Him when push came to shove. As I sat there on the floor that Saturday two years ago, surrounded by candles and scraps of paper and pencil nibs, as well as a handful of other believers exploring that same space, I realized that I dwell not so far from Peter's folly. I, too, campaign with zeal for Christ when I am near Him. And yet, how quickly I flee from before Him, how immediately I mock Him, if not with words then with actions or inaction.

I have more specifics to share about this, more to say about how fleeing Christ currently shows up in my life and how He's inviting me deeper than my fear. For now I will simply say that He is patient and He is loving and He is kind and He is wondrous, and all of this so graciously so. Praise God, truly, for that.