Friday, February 22, 2013

Who Did It For You?

These sermons of Lent are inspired by the chapters of the book “24 Hours that Changed the World”, by Rev. Adam Hamilton.

Mark 14: 12-25

The meal that Jesus gathers with his friends for in this story is the Passover dinner, a ritualistic meal in the Jewish faith that remembers the Exodus, or the story of their deliverance, as a people, from slavery in Egypt.

I’m not real clear on the symbolism, or even if the Passover as observed now is the way it was 2000 years ago. I do remember, in the modern Passover that there’s a place where the youngest person ion the room gets to ask “why this night isn’t like any other night?”

The order of ritual is called a Haggadah, and there are many variations in the modern world.

What they all commemorate, though is the greatest event in the Jewish world, the event that created them as a people. As good Jews, Jesus and his disciples and friends would of course have observed this, too.

Remember when Jesus told John the Baptist that it should be so for now that he should baptize Jesus? There are just certain things that we have to do as matters of passing, matters of societal acceptance. It may seem weird for Jesus to have observed the Passover, but also remember that he was a good Jewish man, and this is what good Jewish folk do. There may have even been a few years in which Jesus was the one who asked why this night wasn’t like all other nights, if they did that back then.

Passover is a remembrance. It’s a way to remember their history; a way to remember who they are.

Last night, at dinner at a restaurant, my father asked my son a question about his genealogy from his mothers’ side, a question about Edward I, Longshanks of England, whom my wife’s family can trace back to. He was asking about whether he was related to the body that had just been discovered recently in England (which turned out to be Edward II).

My father tells these stories for the same reason the Jews celebrate Passover-so we may remember who we are and where we come from. We all have certain facets of remembrance in our lives. There are stories we all tell about what is important to us.

Jesus, in the Passover dinner, is no different.

They were there to tell the story of their common heritage. But Jesus changed it up, that night. He took up one of the four cups used in the Passover then, and said to the people around the table (including Judas, who Adam Hamilton suggests was immediately to Jesus’ side at the place of honor the way the table was set up in those days), that this wine was his blood. Then he told them that the unleavened bread he held was like his body.

Surely this made the disciples tense, because they knew that the clouds were gathering, the evil was rising, the bad people were starting to have a plan. But when he says “each time you eat this, remember me,” they were surely confused. Jesus is not using the language of resistance.

Something new was instituted that night, and that something new itself became a remembrance, which is what we are doing today. Communion is a direct outgrowth of the actions Jesus took at the Passover dinner the night before he died.

During these next six weeks of Lent, we’re going to be concentrating on the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life, as written about by Rev. Adam Hamilton of the church of the Resurrection, a United Methodist church in suburban Kansas City.

Jesus gathered his friends for Passover, which is a remembrance. We take communion as a remembrance of Jesus’ choices for us. We may also remember the ones who have come before us to the rail we come to in our churches. We may remember some significant moments while taking communion at camp, or at your wedding, or wherever.

Whatever it may be, may this be the beginning of a fruitful and meaningful Lent, as we rededicate ourselves to God’s purpose, of loving the world as he would love it.

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