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Monday, April 29, 2013

We tell stories over and over again

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We tell stories over and over again because we have yet to hear the Truth in them – the story is the vehicle in which the Truth comes!  We need another to help us to recognize our Truth and learn what that story has within it that we need to hear.  It is why we tell the Easter Story, the Christmas Story, the Miracles of Jesus, the Parables of Jesus over and over and over again – the world and those who live in it, including ourselves, haven’t yet heard their Truth!

There is a step prior to hearing the Truth which we need to take:  we need to KNOW the story of God’s Redeeming Love for all people for all times and all places!  We need to KNOW the Easter Story and the Christmas Story and all the rest!  That is why we walk through Holy Week each year and remember……

We remember that on Palm Sunday when there were 2 parades into Jerusalem – one was the Royal Emperor’s parade at the Passover festival and the other was that motley band of peasants and Disciples and Jesus riding a colt into the city to celebrate Passover with His Disciples.  The ‘Jesus Parade’ was making great and joyous noise as they sang psalms and waved palm branches, shouting Hosanna’s.  The ‘Emperor Parade’ was much quieter for the people were afraid of drawing attention to themselves lest the Emperor become angry with them.  The ‘Emperor’s Parade’ carried banners and horse drawn chariots and sounded much like a military march in the dust and the dirt. When the two parades came close to each other, the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to quiet the ‘Jesus Parade’  in case the ‘Emperor’s Parade’ would be disturbed.  Jesus responded:  “If the crowd was quiet, the rocks and stones themselves would shout!”

Monday comes and Jesus is at the Temple and He is angered by the marketplace which has grown around the inner sanctum of the Temple – the place of Jewish sacrifice and worship.  In one of the few times we see Jesus angry, He turns over the tables of the merchants and money changers crying out that His Father’s House is a place of prayer and they have made it a den of thieves!  In effect, Jesus has cleared the way to the center of Jewish worship and the people can get into the worship area unhindered by the merchants.

Tuesday comes and the Pharisees and Sadducees are plotting how to trap Jesus and remove Him from the crowds which constantly surround Him.  Judas arranges with the members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders, how and when it would be best to take Jesus into custody.  He is given 30 pieces of silver for betraying his Savior.

Wednesday comes and preparations are made for the coming Passover meal where Jesus and the Disciples will share their last meal together, the Seder Meal.  Seder is the celebration and recitation of the Exodus story where Moses led the Israelites out of bondage from Egypt, across the wilderness and through the Red Sea. 

Maundy Thursday comes and during the celebration of the Seder Meal, Jesus washes the Disciples’ feet, reveals to the Disciples that one of the 12 will betray Him, picks up the middle piece of Motzah and calls it His Body and after, picks up Elijah’s Cup and tells the Disciples it is now the Cup of the New Covenant in His Blood, and gives the world a new Commandment:  “Love one another!”  Following the Seder Meal, the Disciples go with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and while Jesus is praying, the Disciples fall asleep – they cannot stay awake to attend to Jesus’ needs through prayer.  The Roman Guards come and take Jesus into custody after Judas kisses His cheek, to identify Jesus as the one they are to arrest.  Jesus throughout the rest of the night and into the next day is taken to a ‘court’ which is unsanctioned and sent to Herod for sentencing.  Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate and Pilate has Jesus flogged or whipped 39 times and a crown of thorns is placed on His head.

Good Friday dawns and Jesus is made to carry a heavy Cross to Golgotha, (place of the skull) where he is nailed to the Cross until He is dead, while His Disciples and His Mother, Mary, are watching.

Following Jewish custom, Jesus must be buried before sundown on Friday which begins the Jewish Sabbath.  All day Saturday Sabbath is observed.  At dawn on Sunday morning, the women gather and go to the tomb where Jesus is buried to perform the Jewish rituals for anointing the dead and find the stone that was over the opening of the tomb to be rolled away and the tomb is empty!  Jesus’ Body is not there!  Mary thinks she is speaking to the gardener and asks him where they had taken Jesus’ Body.  And Jesus answers her, “Mary!”.  And Mary sees and believes!

Christians from all walks of life, all cultures on earth, walk through these Holy Days remembering the Passion of our Savior.  What is the Truth you need to hear as we make the journey to Jerusalem once again this year?  What will be necessary for you to hear Jesus calling your name?  What do you need to see and believe?

Pray with me:  O God, as we make the journey to Jerusalem in our hearts once again this year, bless us with new sight, that we might see the direction You would have us travel in this life to make rough places smooth for all those who are seeking You.  Open our eyes and our ears and our hearts that we might follow the New Commandment to love one another.  We ask it in Your name, O Christ, Amen.

Blessed Easter!

[Rev. Jan C. Johnson, Interim Pastor

St. John United Church of Christ]


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