An After-Easter Prayer
“Behind him [John] came Simon Peter, and he went straight into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the cloth which had been around Jesus’ head. It was not lying with the linen cloths but was rolled up by itself” John 20:6-7
Dear Lord, I’ve always wondered about this detail in the Easter story. John describes the cloths so carefully, as if they have significance. What if the new year begins the day after Easter? Jesus went through abuse, torture, and crucifixion for my sake, because He valued me highly. Why? Why go through all that agony for me? Having learned of His sacrifice, what’s expected of me? How am I supposed to live my life Post-Easter?
The period following Easter is the perfect time to self-examine, determine the issues and problems that trouble my life. There are weaknesses requiring treatment, behavior I need to cast off. Those discarded funeral wraps Jesus left behind are a symbol of sins in my life, sins making my life tattered and soiled. As an example, forgiveness is difficult for me; I claim I’ve forgiven individuals, but again and again I focus on their behavior and become angry once more. It’s not only others I can’t forgive, Lord. I accept your forgiveness, I try to convince myself you’ve washed me clean, but things I’ve done still trouble me, making me ashamed. I need to take off that wrapping of guilt and hardness of heart—leave it behind and work to forgive myself and others.
We’re told to love; love is the most emphasized gift of the Holy Spirit. I know this and yet I love like a miser, carefully weighing slights, balancing my love against the love I receive. I accept the endless love you have for me, Dear Lord, but I distribute love as though it’s a finite amount, against your infinite love. My failure to love with abandon is another layer of torn wrapping that needs removal, cast off and left behind in an empty tomb.
Judge not, we’re told, but my judgment is immediate and stern. How easy to win my approval—do what I do, think as I do, and behave as I prescribe. For ‘the other’, those who don’t behave as I like, my judgment falls hammer-like. I understand in my heart it’s wrong to be self-righteous, but breaking away from old habits is difficult. This too, Lord, needs to change. I want to accept others without assessing their ‘value’ to me. Help me strip away my soiled coat of judgment, leave it behind, old and out-dated.
I know, Lord, change will be difficult. How can I battle these old, familiar sins and become the resurrected woman you want me to be? Please lend me that linen cloth, a cloth that covered your face, a cloth so carefully folded and set aside. Let me use that cloth to cleanse, to give me a clean purpose once I’ve discarded those raggedy clothes. Only with your help, Lord, can I dress myself in a new Easter outfit, clad in your gift of redemption and grace. With your help I leave behind the tomb rags of the past and move into new life.