On the way to Sunday … and a table for 2

In Revelation 3:20 CEB Jesus speaks and says,

Look! I’m standing at the door and knocking. If any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to be with them, and will have dinner with them, and they will have dinner with me.


So come to the table this Easter morning … and break the bread and see for yourself.

The Table is set … there is a place just for you!

Holy Saturday … and we wait …

On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. Only after the solemn vigil during the day and night, does the Easter celebration begin.

On Holy Saturday long ago the followers of Christ began to gather in the safety of the Upper Room where they had days earlier dined with Jesus.  They gathered to meditate on the suffering and death of Christ – Why had this happened? What was the purpose? What would they do now?

Did anyone remember the story Jesus told? 

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”  Luke 12:35ff NIV

Today as we wait for Easter morning, what will you be doing?

As we wait for the return of Christ, will you be found ready?

See you at Church … I’ll be doing my best to be ready … will you join me?

 

 

 

(image taken at the Garden Tomb outside of Jerusalem)

Passion Week … Good Friday

 

Today is Good Friday.

This is the Friday before Easter Sunday and on this day Christians commemorate the suffering and death on the cross of Jesus Christ.

On the surface ‘Good Friday’ seems a ridiculous name for the day that Christ was crucified.

But let me explain …

 

I have a millennial print edition of Rembrandt’s etching “Descent from the Cross” hanging in my office (see image above or video below).  I often stop to marvel at the detail in the etching – each pen stroke carefully placed and meticulously made – with skill and love the picture is completed.  With care and love the people in the painting are lowering Christ from the cross to take Him to be buried. The detail and compassion revealed in this etching are the same reasons that this dark day is remembered as good!

God doesn’t miss a detail on this day.  While Christ suffered and died on this day, He did so by making a choice to die – to die for all sinners – past, present, and future.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son (John 3:16).

On this day, every detail is cared for – every prophecy complete.

Each detail is lovingly and meticulously cared for until the picture is complete and Christ can declare, “It is finished!

The work is done.  My sins forgiven. My life redeemed.

If that isn’t reason to call a day – Good. I don’t if there ever will be a day.

This day is good, but Sunday is coming and it gets even better!

See you Sunday, until then I might take another look at that picture …

Passion Week … Maundy Thursday

 

“Maundy Thursday” is the traditional name for this day of Holy Week in England. It is therefore the usual name also in English-speaking protestant churches that originated in England. The word Maundy is derived through Middle English and the old French word, mandé, from the Latin mandatum.

This is the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you).
This is from the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John (13:34) in which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. 

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
John 13:1-7 NIV

As the meal preparations are coming to a head. It is time for a customary cleansing. It would have been customary to bathe before attending a feast. This is in part why the custom of foot washing existed. You would bathe in preparation for the feast and then walk to the place of the feast. Upon arriving at the feast you would be seated at the tables.

These tables would not be like those that we see portrayed in movies or in paintings.
You would sit in a nearly reclined position; your feet would be near the table and others. Therefore, the custom of washing your feet before the meal comes in place. The rest of your body was clean, but your feet would get dirty while traveling to the feast. This task of foot washing was a menial task and was relegated to the lowliest of the servants present at the meal.

Imagine yourself at this meal. You have already asked who is the greatest among you with no real answer. Yet you still want to know who will it be? You see the customary wash basin in the room. You begin to look around sizing up those that are around you. You may not discover who the greatest is, but tonight you will learn who is the least. There are no servants present, it is just the disciples and Jesus and no one has volunteered to perform the task.  Who will be washing the feet? Who will it be? Surely not me! And then it happens. Jesus picks up the basin and the towels. No! Surely this cannot be. Jesus is not the least among us. He cannot be the one to wash my feet.

So much time has passed, but we are still looking for someone else to clean us up. We are willing to acknowledge that we are not clean, but we are reluctant to let Jesus be the one who will clean us up.

We want to be the one. Who will it be? We still live in a world that is reluctant to let Jesus be the one. And now as the meal concludes, Jesus tells us that this flock of followers will scatter (Matt 26:31).

We listen as Peter loudly declares that he will not leave (Matt 26:33).  And isn’t that so much like us?

We come together and loudly proclaim in our places of worship that we will follow, but then morning comes.

As we rise from the table, I wonder, “Who will be left to follow?”

Who will choose to pray this night with Jesus in the garden?

Who will claim to be His follower as the crowd rises to shout crucify?

Who will be at the cross on Friday?

Who will it be?

Passion Week … it’s Wednesday

Wednesday of Holy Week is traditionally known as “Spy Wednesday” because on this day Judas made a “secret” bargain with the high priest to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. 
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 
He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. 
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 
They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” 
Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”                         Mathew 26:14-25 NIV

We identify with the disciples when they ask, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” 

After all, we would never act like Judas did.

Yet, we miss how the story begins … What are you willing to give me if …

Truth is that’s how we live most of our lives … bargaining.

We bargain in our relationships with one another and with God.

On this day of Holy Week we discover we aren’t that different than Judas.

And even as we discover this and seek to dismiss it, we sound just like him,

Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?

On the way to Sunday … and dessert!

I’m fairly positive that Pumpkin Pie will not go down in the history of desserts as an extravagant dessert, but it is at the top of my list!

In the interest of full disclosure, Pumpkin Pie is my favorite dessert of all time. I could eat it all year and often due to thanks to a wonderful wife who bakes them for me!

But what could possibly makes Pumpkin Pie an extravagant dessert?

Every year my family would travel to Urbana, Indiana for Thanksgiving with my Dad’s family. Grandma and Grandpa would lay out a feast like no other. When dinner was over, there was always dessert in many forms. As was tradition, Grandma always made a couple pumpkin pies.

Grandma knew I loved it. I was always polite and would have my one piece. I would then wait ’til everyone else had their choice of desserts and then whatever was leftover was mine to eat! Often this meant as much as half of an entire pie just for me!

One particular Thanksgiving, as I returned to the kitchen there was no pie leftover. I was disappointed, but I said nothing. As everyone finished and the dishes were being put away, my grandmother came over to me and whispered, “Go down to the basement and look in the refrigerator. There is something in there just for you.”

Imagine my surprise. There on the shelf was an entire pumpkin pie with my name on it. From that year on, every time I visited my Grandparents, Grandma would bake a pie and hide it in the basement just for me!

I didn’t need an entire pie. It was a bit extravagant, but it was a way for my grandmother to show how much she loved me.

Her pumpkin pies always tasted the best, perhaps it was the extra ingredient of love that made them better. One time she shared with me her secret recipe. I guess it really was that love that made them so special.

Now my wife bakes pumpkin pies with the same recipe as Grandma. A Dessert made extravagant by the love that goes into it’s preparation. That will always make these pumpkin pies the best and most extravagant dessert for me!

Thanks Grandma and thank you Sherry!

Saint Patrick’s Prayer

St. Patrick’s prayers for the faithful capture the wonderful spirit that made him Ireland’s patron saint and one of the Church’s most beloved missionaries.  He was born in Britain shortly before the 5th century.  He was taken captive to Ireland by raiders at the age of 16. He lived there for six years as a shepherd under harsh conditions and became intensely devoted to God in prayer, as he puts it, “because the spirit was then fervent within me.” Tradition has it that divine dreams inspired both his escape from captivity in Ireland and his return there later in his life as a bishop.

A Variation of St. Patrick’s Prayer:

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,

May the Strength of God pilot us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Host of God guard us.
Against the snares of the evil ones.
Against temptations of the world
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Christ be over all!

May Thy Salvation, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and evermore
AMEN