As often as possible this week I will share a brief meditation and suggest a Bible passage for you to read. The most recent one will be on top; just scroll down for the earlier ones.
Good Friday (April 10)
Holy Saturday (April 11)
Scripture: John 18.1-19.42
The question often asked about Good Friday is “Why do we call it ‘good’?” It’s a good question. There really is no easy answer. It is at the depth of our Christian theology. Our answer will tell much of how we understand God, humanity, creation, life, and life’s purposes.
Of course, the easy answer is because Good Friday takes us to Easter. There is an old story or song somewhere about the people who were telling exactly when they were “saved.” Most them referred to a Sunday or a revival service, the time when they first accepted Christ. One person said he was saved on a Friday. He was referring to Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross, “the old rugged cross.”
Between Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday, on these last two days of Lent, it is good for us to remember that life consists of many woes and many blessings. Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell them apart. If you are living today and if you don’t have the COVID-19, then our time of separation and isolation is serving good. While many people are suffering and dying, we hope that God will continue to bring blessings from the curse of this virus.
In light of Palm/Passion Sunday, Holy Week, including Good Friday, and our Easter faith, Easter Sunday and every day of every year, we trust that truly, all things can work for good when we love God and serve God’s purposes, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord!
Holy Wednesday (April 8)
Maundy Thursday (April 9)
Read: John 13.1-32
During Holy Week we concentrate on Jesus’ “Last Supper” with his disciples. To be sure, it was not Jesus’ only meal with his disciples and he did not always eat only with his disciples. Sometimes, Jesus ate in the homes of other people, friends and possible enemies. He prepared meals for several thousand people at a time!
Gospel writer John combines a couple of events at the meal recorded in John 13. At the beginning of this meal, Jesus’ takes the role of servant to wash his disciples’ feet. When Peter refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, Jesus tells Peter that he will “have no share” with him. Peter relents.
This part of the story has so much to say, in and of itself, that I often forget that it is also John’s telling of the “last” supper. This is the meal where Jesus tells that one of his disciples will betray him. Here, the disciples don’t know who it is, but they seem certain of their own faithfulness. Instead of asking, “Is it I?”, they ask, “Who is it?”
Holy Wednesday and Maundy Thursday together cover intimate moments of Jesus’ last days and hours with his closest followers. It is also an intimate time for God’s followers in the 21st century as we consider our roles as Jesus’ disciples.
Throughout our lives, are we faithful followers of the one who willingly died for us? In what ways, large and small, do we sometimes betray our savior and betray our trust?
NOTE: On Maundy Thursday we will offer a podcast (an audio service) that you can reach from our website, Facebook, Buzzsprout and by phone call-in, like our Sunday services. In this service, we will observe the liturgy of Holy Communion. (The service should be available by late afternoon or early Thursday evening.) Whenever you are able to listen to this service, have a cracker or small piece of bread and a small glass of fruit juice or water to take at the appropriate time, as you participate in the Sacrament.
Holy Tuesday (April 7)
Read: Matthew 22.1-14
This is one story that may help us understand why some people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with a victory parade would later turn against him. This is Jesus’ story of a king hosting a wedding party for his son. He sent invitations to favored guests. They all declined. When he sent his servants to encourage the first guests to come, they abused and killed his servants.
Of course, Jesus’ story is a reminder of God’s prophets who had called many people to celebrate over many years. Prophets had been rejected and even killed.
It used to be said that you had to invite seven people to church to get one positive response. It seems more like one in a hundred these days, or maybe we’re not inviting the right people.
The king sends his servants back into the streets to invite anyone who will come. People show up and the party begins. When the king sees one person who isn’t dressed appropriately, he has him thrown out. “Many people are invited, but few people are chosen.”(CEB)
We may be living a reverse of this story right now. Everyone is asked to stay home. Even churches are not allowed to have gatherings, of any kind! Some pastors and congregations are defying the law, but I think it is wise for us to restrict our activities for a time for the good of all.
When we do resume, I would hope that we would make special efforts to invite, encourage, and welcome everyone and anyone who will come and worship with us. God will decide the dress code.
Holy Monday (April 6)
Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11
Yesterday, we celebrated Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. You would have though the entire city was glad to see him coming, celebrating him as God’s Messiah. Of course, it wasn’t so.
For sure, many celebrated for various reasons. Some had been healed of illness, disease, and handicapping conditions. Some knew their sins forgiven and God’s grace given. Many welcomed the Good News as a message of hope and salvation.
There were others celebrating, not so much for what had happened as for what they hoped would happen. Surely, this man Jesus would restore the sanctity of the Temple, saving if from the power mongering Sanhedrin. Surely, this man Jesus was the one sent by God to rescue God’s people from Roman authority.
We can understand the differing feelings and expectations, but it may still mystify us how a crowd celebrating Jesus on Palm Sunday, could be part of the same crowd that will call for his crucifixion just a few days later.
If you scan the headings in Matthew 21.12-27.10 or read these chapters carefully, you may gain some insights as to how this could happen. Jesus offended people! What some hear as the message of grace and salvation, others hear as a threat to the status quo or to their own position in authority.
We used to call them “Sunday Christians.” They were those who went to church on Sunday, but continued to snub others, criticize rather than help people in need, and basically kept to their sinful ways the other days of the week.
God, forgive us when we sin. Forgive us when we celebrate Jesus but do not follow him. Forgive us when we think we can keep Jesus and salvation all to ourselves.
In Jesus’ name, Pastor Tom