“The only difference between Doctors and Mechanics is one washes their hands before they go to the bathroom, and one washes them after.”
Something like hand washing has been at the forefront of conversation since March. To be quite honest, the return to regular hand washing is probably a positive result of this pandemic. Hands carry all sorts of germs; hands touch things that other hands have touched. Hands are gross. Hands are dirty. They are unsanitary. They collect germs from everything they touch. Hands that no matter how many times they are washed and sanitized, become covered in germs again.
It is these hands I see coming forward on Sunday morning. Hands that are laying limp on a rail made of stained and varnished wood. Hands that look different than the ones next to them. There are hands that are rough and worn with dirt underneath the fingernails from a life made of working the fields and tending cattle. There are hands that are steady, sterile, and lifesaving. There are hands that are greasy from working underneath the hood of a car. Hands that are shaky from opening too many bottles throughout their lives, or hands that are shaky from old age. There are small hands that are growing, learning, and maturing, yet still on occasion pick their nose. There are hands that hold a story in the place where a finger used to be, but is no longer there. These are the hands that rest on the rail, hands that lie there empty, yet full. See, there are some things that hand sanitizer can’t wash off. These hands may look empty, but they carry more than just germs, they are burdened with sin.
These are the hands that have done unimaginable things. Hands that while you cannot tell by their marks, have fallen short of the glory of God, way short. These hands were clenched in fists as they met jawbone and stomach. These are hands that opened another beer trying to drown out the anxieties of life. These are the hands that typed slanderous, hateful, words as they hid behind an anonymous social media account. These are the hands that gripped their wife’s wrist too hard during an argument. These are hands that followed their lustful thoughts to a dark room where the only light was the glow of a computer monitor. These are hands that stole from their parents to fund their drug habit. These are the hands that rest on the rail. These are unholy hands.
These hands have no business laying on the rail that separates them from the glory of God. These hands have no business coming that close to where Christ is present. Yet, there they are. They are only there because they have been invited, no other reason. They were asked to come, told to come. Not only do these hands come before Christ, resting, but they also come to receive. They come to do the unthinkable. This is the moment when the unholy are touched by the holy. The moment when grimy, dirty, broken hands are sanitized and made righteous. It is here where Christ’s flesh that was ripped and torn touches our flesh. It is here where unholy hands receive blood that once flowed through holy veins and put it to their lips. At this moment, these hands are righteous, sanitized, and what was one unholy is now made holy. For a moment, these hands are sanitized, and it won’t last long. Yet, regardless of how your hands betray you, regardless of the offense they bear, Christ will invite you once again to come touch, to come taste, and to come to see his nail-pierced hands reaching out to touch yours. Christ will invite you to come and rest your hands on that stained, wooden rail. Where you will receive his touch, where he takes your sins and burdens and places in your hand His body and His blood for the forgiveness of sins, so, dear Christian go to the rail where not only your hands will be sanitized, but your soul.