Third Saturday of Advent: Fine Garments
Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”
Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”
—Zechariah 3:3-4 (Read Zechariah 3)
Celebrating the Eucharist saved my life.
Decades ago, we arrived in Pittsburgh with a toddler and baby. We were in a new city with new jobs, young children, not much money, and few friends or family nearby.
I call those “the dark years.”
We decided to attend a church recommended to us, a more liturgical service than we had ever experienced. This meant communion every Sunday. Both my husband and I had grown up in a theological tradition which taught the seriousness of a right relationship with God and confession of sin, especially before taking communion. You had to be ready.
As we celebrated Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf every Sunday, I never felt ready.
But I loved the Eucharist. I loved watching people line up in the aisle. I loved standing to get out of the pew, walking down the aisle past rows of people I knew, waiting behind and beside people for my turn to receive. I loved kneeling or standing to take the bread and wine, and finally, returning to my pew. A Sunday-after-Sunday ritual.
The irony of feeling ill-prepared was that I was able meet Jesus as I was, filthy garments and all.
I began to experience more deeply what I knew intellectually to be true: that Jesus came to this earth to meet me—where I was, not where I should be. I unconsciously operated as though I needed to get myself right or God would punish me. But in the Eucharist, we celebrate His sufficiency, not ours.
Weekly Eucharist trained my heart to experience what I know in my mind to be true—that grace is free, that God loves me, that God is looking to do good to me. And in those dark years of loneliness, change, and endless diapers, these weekly reminders saved my life.
Years passed. Our toddler daughter and baby son grew up. And then, the day our daughter graduated from college, my husband, Dave, was laid off work.
Panic set in immediately.
We were one of those families that need both incomes to pay the bills. Our son was still in college. How would we cover our expenses? While Dave applied for jobs, I searched the internet for houses in other neighborhoods, convinced we needed to sell our house and find something cheaper.
One day I took our dog, Joe, for a walk. I needed to get outside and pray.
When we got to the park, I let loose with the tears. I couldn’t believe my own heart. I didn’t trust God, nor did I think He loved me—even though I knew better.
And then I lifted up my hands and told Him that, even though I didn’t trust Him or His love, I knew I should. I opened up my hands to Him to receive what He had for me.
All along, the Eucharist has been shaping my heart to trust in a God of grace and to wait for the God who removes my filthy garments and gives me pure vestments.
The Eucharist stands against my subconscious beliefs about God which are fed by an enemy who accuses me (I’m never going to be good enough), my culture, and an ethos of “you get what you deserve.” The Eucharist shows me that Jesus, prefigured in Zechariah 3, takes all of my sin and junk and gives me good things in return so that I can serve Him with freedom and joy.
During Advent, we look back to a God who came in the person of Christ to meet us where we are. And we look forward to Christ’s return, when He will set right our broken lives and this broken world.
We hold out our hands in trust, releasing our fear.
Ginger Weeber has been committed to the mission of the CCO for her entire working career, and she currently serves as our Gift & Stewardship Officer.