Thursday, March 28, 2013

Preparing for the Festival

Maundy Thursday

Mark 14:12-26  On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'  He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there." So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.  When it was evening, he came with the twelve.  And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me." They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, "Surely, not I?"  He said to them, "It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me.  For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born."  While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body."  Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it.  He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.  Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."  When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus asked his disciples to begin the preparations for the festival. It strikes me how difficult this must have been: Jesus was a stranger in town. He had come from the rural areas with his students and as a good rabbi he would have wanted to do things properly. But instead of gathering his mother and brothers as has would have been his tradition, he rents a room in the city and gathers his students in what would have been a very makeshift celebration.
I know this feeling, because I too am far from home. I am in Japan with my wife, daughter and mother-in-law. There are absolutely so signs of Easter anywhere. Not even evidence of the commercially driven Easter. Christianity is unknown here. This is the season of the cherry blossoms, and the population is out in their droves to see the blossoms. Which in its own way denotes resurrection and new life: the cherry blossoms announce that winter is over, and gives hope for the arrival of warmer days. So this year I will look to the cherry blossom and think of Jesus – who announced new life in defiance of darkness and death.

If you find yourself in a place that makes Easter difficult for you – perhaps you can ask God to open your eyes to a sign of God’s new life at work in your world. I pray that you too might become aware of the ways that God overcomes sin and darkness.

Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of my life spent with You...

And here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You're my God....

Easter Sunday
Christ Lives
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.142


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