Thursday, April 5, 2012
And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said 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 master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:12-25
I am participating in services tonight at the Church of the Advent in Cape May. The rector, John Mitchell, was kind enough to include me, even though I still have some physical limitations. I feel blessed to participate. When driving over to church to pick up a few things, the whole area was blocked off in a construction project. Although they say it will be done by tonight, there always seem to be extra stressors during Holy Week that none of us can anticipate. There is way too much to do and things can be very tense. Boilers, electricity, illness, squabbles - all see to act out during Holy Week. I have to believe it helps us understand the a bit of the complexity and tension surrounding the players in the Passion.
The tension was mounting. The familiar crew was gathered for the Passover Seder dinner together, a ritual they all knew by heart and which brought families together every year. In the background is the political tensions in Jerusalem, the religious leaders accusations and demand for arrest, the mounting squabbles among the disciples and the awareness that betrayal was at hand. In the midst of all of this Jesus feeds his friends, blesses them, and offers himself to them, body and blood. He understands his sacrifice and aches with compassion for their confusion and petty jealousies. He keeps them together and calms them, despite all the hubbub around him. He, like them is very human, and Jesus pours himself out for them and for the redemption of the world.
As we walk the way of the Passion of Christ in the coming days, may we, like Jesus, have compassion and tenderness for those around us. May we remember that church administrators are worn down to a frazzle, clergy are spent, and all of us are aching for rest and refreshment. Jesus, in the midst of messy humanity poured out his life for them and for us. May we make our way with overwhelming compassion and tender care in our hearts, so that we might fully rejoice in the resurrection to come.