We are all feeling the difficulty of this pandemic in different ways. The uncertainty around health and jobs are real and weigh upon us. Social distancing takes a hard toll on our souls, yet are necessary tools to help not overwhelm our healthcare system. Today is Maundy Thursday, the day we, Christian’s, observe the final meal (Passover) Jesus shared with his disciples. In our corner of the world today, this is commemorated as a pot-luck meal that we have shared with our partner congregation, Iglesia: Mision Bautista de Westchester, and neighbors, Trinity Lutheran Church, several times in the past. It was at this meal that we celebrate Jesus taking the known ritual of the Passover meal and making it about himself! The lamb was slain to put blood upon the doorpost to protect the firstborn of each Jewish household – thus saving the presence of God in their world, is now the role that Jesus embraces for all of humanity and creation. The doorposts of the universe are about to get coated in Jesus’ blood to protect everyone and everything and to preserve God’s holy, universal presence once and for all time.
Clearly the disciples did not grasp his meaning that night. The question for us, all these years later is: Do we? They had expectations of a new political Kingdom, where the Roman authorities would be removed and resoundingly defeated. But this would only be a giving into the temptation of Satan upon Jesus in the wilderness for worldly power and domination over nations. This is the sad and reliable story of human history. Violence only begets more violence. Yet, Jesus offers a new way of abiding peace (Shalom), freedom, compassion, and grace through his sacrifice.
Perhaps this Holy week is the one where we are most able to relate to and dwell with the disciples in their bewilderment, anguish, questions, doubts and fears. They did not know that Sunday’s empty tomb was coming. They did not expect a bodily resurrection of their teacher and mentor. They did not expect that God’s plan for redemption would play out like this. They just couldn’t get their minds around that large of a God; that large a love.
So, as we gather around computer screens or cell phones and participate in Easter services this year while sanctuaries are empty, unthinkable just a few short weeks ago, let us be reminded how unthinkable it was for those grieving, dedicated women, who set out to anoint his body, and find Jesus’ tomb empty. May we, like them, encounter this risen Lord, Jesus the Christ – the Messiah in a new way, too! It is this risen Jesus who would equip their rag-tag group of misfit followers into God’s powerful instruments of peace to share with the world. If we can get that truth in this strange Holy Week, then we will understand the first Holy Week in ways we never could have before.
Holy God of transformative presence, grant us to be with you in your absence, obeying you even in the deep moment of your apparent defeat. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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I'm a follower of Christ, husband, father, friend, pastor, story teller, asker of questions, inspired by biblical narratives, social justice advocate, sports enthusiast, drinker of over priced coffee and general seeker of God's redemptive possibilities. Yeah, that about covers it. (If you discover something else, let me know!)