Many people asked me about the shirts that I tore up during Sunday’s sermon. Some wanted to know how many shirts were sacrificed for the weekend’s sermons. Others wanted to know if those were shirts from my closet. Some asked if I got them from the church’s basement sale. For everyone interested in the shirts, I got them from the thrift store at 39th and Noland Rd. They were about $5.00 each. I bought six and have three leftover. The smudges were made using the leftover ashes from the Ash Wednesday service. One of the shirts was an upscale Calvin Klein shirt, but it tore just as easily as the Joseph A Bank and the brand that no one ever heard of.

In many Bible stories when bad news was received people would tear their clothes. We don’t do that anymore, but sometimes I wish we still did. If we were still tearing our clothes over bad news it would make it much easier to know who around us is dealing with fresh pain. Rather than walking around oblivious to the hurts around us, we could be part of the healing balm for the wounded souls. The deepest healing is going to come through God’s Holy Spirit, but we may be part of the method that God uses to heal others. Much of God’s work is done through God’s people.

We never know the level of pain that surrounds us, and people rarely know ours. The best we can do is try to be aware, and extend grace to people when it seems like they’re not acting like themselves. On any Sunday someone in the sanctuary is having their best day and someone else is having their worst. We bring all of it to worship a God who meets us in our joy and heals our deepest pain.