e-letter 3/30/18

Holy Week: so much to take in, so much to ponder, so many emotions to feel and experience. This morning, as I read from John 13, one of many scriptures that serves as the backdrop for Maundy (Holy) Thursday, these words of Jesus seized my attention “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me. The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples…was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So… he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?'” Jesus goes on to explain, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” (John 13:21-26)

We know the rest of the story. Judas leaves the dinner, goes out and helps deliver Jesus into the hands of the religious authorities, sealing his fate.

We are so quick to focus on Judas as the ultimate betrayer – the one who caused Jesus’ death. He is the easy scapegoat. But the reality is that all the disciples betrayed and failed Jesus in one way or another. They slept when he asked them to pray and keep watch with him. Peter denied even knowing him. In the end, all of them, except John who stayed at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother and the other women, fled in fear for their lives.

And the larger reality is that the answer to that question, “Lord who is it that will betray you?” is all of us. In some way or another, all of us are seated around the table with Jesus. All of us are a part of the crowd that demanded his crucifixion. All of us are part of the crowd that lined the streets that day as he carried the cross through Jerusalem and up the hill of Calvary. All of us are participants in the sin and brokenness that made the cross a reality. Last year, on Ash Wednesday, we placed our fingerprints on a large wooden cross because we all had a hand in the cross. The cross was because of us but it was also for all of us: for all our sin, for all our brokenness, for all our selfishness. The cross offers healing and redemption for all the ways we betray God’s best intentions of love, grace, mercy, and justice for this world. Judas was not the only guilty person at the table that night. We all have a place at that table.

Holy Week gives us the opportunity to find our place at that table, in the garden, in Pilate’s headquarters, along the road to Calvary, and at the foot of the cross – we can own the reality of what the suffering of Christ means and how and why we need the cross. As the drama of Holy Week unfolds, we see and experience for ourselves the power of the bold love of God embodied in the life and heart of Jesus. We see through Jesus to the very heart of God, a God who loves so much that God gave everything that we might be healed, restored, made new. We see in Jesus the lengths to which God would go to make that love real for us because God loves us so much.

I pray that over the next several days, you will find your place in all the events about to unfold. I pray that you will carve out time in your life to draw close to Jesus, to allow his life to be a window into God’s bold, gracious, redeeming love for you and for this world. Read and reflect on the scriptures that tell of the final days of Jesus’ life in the gospels. Pray. Take a prayer walk with no agenda other than to be open to the leading of the Spirit as you walk and pray in God’s beautiful world. Listen to music that touches your heart. Join us for worship at 6:30pm Maundy (Holy) Thursday in the Worship Center with a dramatic portrayal of the Last Supper and Holy Communion. Join us at 9:00am Friday morning at the Good Friday Prayer Walk (details below). Join us for worship at 6:30pm Good Friday in the Sanctuary where we will share in a service of darkness and have time for prayer at the cross.

Spend some time in silent prayer and reflection on Holy Saturday, the day of grieving and silence in the face of death. In all these events, I pray that you will allow the mystery of God’s grace and love to wash over you and prepare you for the astounding gift of new life, victory and hope that is Easter.

Join us Easter Sunday as we celebrate the ultimate expression of the bold love of God in Jesus Christ through the gift of resurrection and give thanks to God for the beauty and the glory of the good news of Easter. There will be six opportunities for you to worship with us (see times below). Bring someone to worship with you who also may need to hear this greatest of news, “He has been raised; he is not here.” (Mark 16:6) And that is no April Fool’s joke!

With faith, hope, trust, and joy for the journey we are making this week,