Friday, April 27, 2012

Communion and the Last Supper

I (Aaron) led Communion time in our Sunday worship service a few weeks ago, and read from the account of the Last Supper in Luke 22. Several passages struck me in new ways.

1.) "When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, 'I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.'"

Once again, we're reminded that the Last Supper was, indeed, the last "normal" meal that Jesus got to spend with the disciples, his best friends in the world. He looked forward to it, and what he did and said that night took on even greater significance because of that.

2.) "And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me'....In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.'"

When we eat and drink together -every time we eat and drink together- we're called to remember Jesus. His life on earth, his love for everyone, and his death that brings us new life.

3.) "A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, 'The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.'"  

Unbelievable. Almost before Jesus had finished his statement, the disciples were already bickering about their respective places in this new kingdom that their best friend and teacher was going to die a pretty horrible death in order to establish. 

But once again, Jesus gently corrects them. "If you want to be great in God's kingdom," he says. "Be like me. Live like me. Serve like me. Love like me. And if necessary, even die like me." 

That's love. That's greatness. That's what the kingdom of heaven is like! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Real Spirituality: Joining the Worlds

An interesting tidbit from this week's Green Book readings:

"Real spirituality dawns when our life with God becomes as real as the problems and joys we experience each day. Until then we live in two different worlds...

"This separation can not remain if all our life is to be filled with real meaning, peace, and awe, no matter how violent or stormy our days may become. When we are truly prayerful we join both worlds. As we become naturally aware of God throughout the day, we journey in both worlds simultaneously. That is truly the spiritual life."

-From Everyday Simplicity by Robert J. Wicks

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Sunday 2012

Aaron preached a mini-sermon during our Easter Sunday service + All-Church Breakfast a few weeks ago. His devotional message was inspired by the Christian calendar, liturgical tradition, and a healthy does of that week's Scriptural passages and suggested readings from the Green Book. The basic points went something like this:

"Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

"Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

"Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. Jesus Appears to His Disciples On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit." " -John 20:10-22 (NIV)

"The LORD is risen; tears of grief have given way to tears of joy; and followers of Jesus Christ now try to live in this world where evil, darkness, and death itself have been unconditionally conquered...To live in a world where evil holds no fear and death holds no threat requires a radical shift in understanding and attitude.

"Such a world is no longer under the dominant control of darkness, but is already showing signs of the healing and life-giving presence of light, God's light. The truth that darkness can never extinguish the light gives us confidence and hope in this Easter season, and in all seasons."

This is one of our favorite Easter the Christ candle from last year's Advent wreath, the candle that was so agonizingly extinguished during the Service of Shadows on Good Friday. In short: Love Wins!! :)

"The Season of Easter is set within the fifty days following our LORD's resurrection. Forty days after the resurrection we observe our LORD's ascension; fifty days after the resurrection, and ten days after we observe Ascension, we observe Pentecost...but it is now, in this Easter Season, that we begin to learn how to live (and love) in (and with) the power of the resurrected Christ!"

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." -John 15:13-15 (NIV)

"Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew.
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do."
-Edwin Hatch, 19th-century English theologian and hymn-writer

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

"This is my command: Love each other.
" -John 15:16-17 (NIV)

"We know, O LORD, that if we follow close to you nothing will be able to separate us from your endless life and love and light. Please give us the grace to make your word our guide, so that we may know you more intimately and follow you more closely - forever.

"Father, we love you so much. We really do. Help us to act like it."


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Keeping it all together...

We've kind of been thinking about three things all at once lately:

1.) The work we're trying to finish now (in Poland) over the next 3.5 months..
2.) What we'll be doing next (in the States) between August and December 2012..
3.) Whatever comes after that (some details we know, some are still up in the air)...

As we attempt to responsibly weigh all of the challenges and opportunities that accompany these changes, one passage that has comforted us comes from Isaiah 43:

"But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:

'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you...'"
-Isaiah 43:1-5a (NIV)


Monday, April 2, 2012

Wild hopes!

A particularly inspiring excerpt from last week's Green Book readings:

"Do you have any wild hopes?
Or tame ones for that matter?
The possibility of acorns becoming towering oaks,
or caterpillars blossoming into butterflies?
Or that dawn will chase away might night fears?

"Wild hopes!

"That all creation will learn the dance of joy,
And all humanity might taste the wine of peace,
And that our loving God will become transparent through love.
'Recast the earth, oh, Lord,
and move our hearts with wild hopes!'"
-From Resurrection to Pentecost, by Robert F. Mornea