"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection." - Philippians 3:10
Scripture says that when Jesus was condemned the soldiers stripped him of his clothes. We don't know what it looked like – whether he looked them in the eye as they undid his belt. We don't know if he tried to cover himself, or if he pulled his tunic over his own head, smelling for the last time the fabric of his life – his sweat, tinged with the odor of his last supper.
What we do know is this: it was the worst possible death for a Jew. Not because the flesh is sinful, but because the body is holy – made in the image of God. And so he hung there, his arms outstretched, made vulnerable, open to the wounds of the world. The Word of God made flesh, redeemed. Reborn.
Yet, each morning we clothe ourselves – not just with garments, but with schedules, meetings, partners, plans. We paint youth in firm brushstrokes on our cheeks, cover our anxieties with accessories, our fears with fashion. We wrap ourselves in the diplomas on the wall, in the labels on the car and on the clothes. We arm ourselves with our expectations for ourselves and others, our defense mechanisms and coffee mugs.
So today, go naked. Take it all off. Expose that scar. Say a prayer of gratitude for the love handles and the crow's feet. Dare to confront the way you physically and emotionally bear the marks of time. Because then, and only then, will we become like Christ –made vulnerable, open to the wounds of the world, yes, but also the wonders. Do this, and I am willing to bet that you will see yourself again for the first time – the image of God made flesh, redeemed. Reborn.
God, strip me of my insecurities and my needs and clothe me instead with the knowledge that this stranger in the mirror is really me. And therefore really You. Help me to embrace her today, instead of covering her up. Amen.
Elissa Johnk is the Senior Pastor of The Old Meeting House, East Montpelier Center, Vermont.