I've never read the book, but I've never forgotten the title of the Harry Crews novel, "Scar Lover." Here are the words that caught my attention in a "New York Times" book review:
"The good thing about a scar is that it is a sign of healing. A scar may be ugly, and it may be a reminder; it may remain tender to the touch. But it is also evidence that the wound is closed, done with ... a trace of what you have been through."
I've seen a lot of scars in my business. Some folks evidently have an inordinate need to show them to their pastor! None of them have been pretty. In fact, they're ugly. They've all been painful. But they are also the sign of a life that was saved, a body that was healed, or a new life that was born. The only reason to love a scar is because it is the sign of what we have been through.
One of the most intriguing things to me in the post-resurrection narratives is that the risen Christ still bears the marks of the nails that held him to the cross and the sword that was pushed into his side. They are, in fact, the identifying marks by which the disciples knew that the crucified Jesus and the risen Lord were one.
Last Sunday we saw Jesus invite Thomas to put his finger into the print of the nails and to touch the scar in his side. This week we will visit the upper room where the disciples will hear Jesus say, "Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see." (Luke 24:36-49) It's the invitation to see the marks of Jesus' suffering that become the witness of the resurrection. It's the sign of just how real the new life of the resurrection is.
It's also an invitation for us to touch the scars in our own lives. Some are visible; most are hidden. But we all have them. They are the signs of what we have been through. The only way to experience the real life that Christ brings is to acknowledge the scars in our lives and to allow God's grace to bring healing through them.
I look forward to being with you in worship in the place where wounded people get healed.
General Conference is Here!
The Council of Bishops has already arrived. The Bishops' Memorial Service will be in our Sanctuary tomorrow. Delegates for the 2012 General Conference arrive this week. You're invited to the opening worship service at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Convention Center. There are still a few places for volunteers to offer a warm, Tampa greeting. You can check it out here. Be praying with us that that spirit of God will move among us in fresh and renewing ways to empower our church to be witnesses to God's love in this world.
Rev. Jim Harnish is senior pastor of Hyde Park UMC.