With the ice days this week, I've been given the gift of rearranged time. Not extra time, since all the work I miss while spending more time with my family will have to made up somewhere, but my days were definitely rearranged. Instead of heading into the office, hearing the busy, happy sounds of our Children’s Day Out, meeting with event planners and premarital couples, visiting the homebound and the hospitalized, and all the other moving parts of pastoral ministry, I've been at home.
And unlike some of my colleagues, who don’t have young children at home, my work has had to be put on hold for the most part. Even as a write this article, my 5-month-old son is asleep on my chest and I’m balancing the laptop on my legs while reaching around him to type. It’ll work for a while, until he wakes up, but my “productivity” is definitely down.
Instead, I've made painter’s tape spider webs with my 4-year-old and tossed cotton ball “flies” into it. I've taken naps with my baby. We painted toast and made cookies. It’s good stuff. The days slip easily by, with no one paying too much to the hours.
But there was one day, one 24-hour period, that changed the world. This year at the Krum Church, to observe the season of Lent, we are going to walk beside Jesus through the last 24 hours of his earthly life. Jesus is believed to have died at the age of 33.
And while the gospel writers devote most of their attention to the last 3 years of his life, each one devotes the most attention to the day he was crucified. The last 24 hours of Jesus’ life is the continuation of the love story between God and creation. God would take it upon God’s own self to lay down his life for our sake.
Beginning on Thursday evening after sunset, Jesus would eat the last supper with his disciples, pray in the garden of Gethsemane, be betrayed and deserted by his friends, be convicted of blasphemy by the religious authorities, be tried and sentenced for rebellion by Pontius Pilate, be tortured by Roman soldiers, and experience crucifixion, death, and burial.
When the apostle Paul summarized the gospel for the Christian community in Corinth, he said, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” The suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus represent the heart of the gospel and the completion of God’s saving work.
This past Sunday, we started with the Last Supper. If you missed it, you can head over to our Facebook page (Krum First United Methodist Church) to watch a video. Through that meal, Jesus transformed the Passover Seder, the reminder of the Exodus and God’s central saving act for the Jews, into our Holy Communion, the reminder of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s central saving act for us.
This meal is how we remember the story of who we are and whose we are. And, if we let it, it can reshape our lives. Just as the Passover Seder moves those at the table from slavery to freedom, our Communion can move us from slavery under sin and death to freedom in Jesus Christ.
We all have stories that define us. Words spoken over us or about us come to become the voice within us, defining not only our past, but predicting our future. But instead of the hurts, injuries or insults we may cling to, God invites us to let Communion define who we are. Through it we remember that someone saved us. We remember that God, walking in human flesh, suffered and died for us to be free.
In breaking bread with his disciples, Jesus taught them one last time. He showed them his love. He gave them a meal by which they would remember him for the rest of their lives. And from that time on, every time Jesus’ disciples have shared this meal, it binds us together and reminds us that he is never far away.
This Sunday, we’ll continue on to the garden of Gethsemane. There the betrayal that Jesus had predicted over his last meal will come to past and his closest friends will desert him. It’s a dark day to keep pace with our Lord. But, if we let it, the gospel will continue to transform our lives.