Monday, April 17, 2017
Easter Memories / Part 1
I sank down into our usual booth at Panera last Thursday morning, a little more groggy than I usually find myself at 6 am. It was Maundy Thursday, the day of the last Passover meal Jesus would have with his disciples, the day he washed their feet, broke bread and poured wine in the upper room, and was ultimately betrayed by one of his friends. And instead of feeling the importance and the weight of this day, I felt a little asleep to it all. As I seek to encounter God more this year than I ever have, I sort of expected Holy Week to feel differently than it has in years' past. But on this particular morning, gathered with my girls at Panera, I was back to thinking about deadlines, to do lists, and what was going in the kids' Easter baskets. A good reminder that I am indeed human, and still very much a sinner.
But if I've learned anything this past year, it's that in order to feel close to God, I very much need three things: 1) His word; 2) My people; and 3) Time to dig in. And not every time, but almost every time, when I invest in these three things, God moves in me. It takes discipline to see his presence, to feel the power of it all, and let it fill those places in me that could easily be filled with this-world kinds of things like Easter baskets and weekend plans and emails that pile up. We live in such a distracted age, and without some work on our part, God can't work in us.
Thursday morning, we looked at the book of Exodus and Natalie pointed me to The Village Church's podcast, where Matt Chandler just finished walking through the book of Exodus in an in-depth sermon series. Feeling a little lost in translation, I found the very first podcast in this series and listened to it throughout my day. And I wanted to write down everything he said. I marveled at God's amazingly orchestrated plan, one that began centuries ago and still continues today through us. To see God's almighty power come out in such big ways - through the flood, the plagues, and the parting of the red sea, and then to see Him change and move His people through the smallest of ways - one man, a group of fishermen, a dinner table, and a cross, left me truly in awe of who He is. At the end of the day, I reread the last few chapters of Matthew, specifically Matthew 27, and saw these two faces of God come to a head at the same time and was once again reminded that it was all done for me. And I couldn't help but be moved to feel the pain, the grace, and the deep love our father has for us.
"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open."
The English major in me revels in this imagery. When Jesus took his final breath, the curtain in the temple that once kept so many of us from being able to fully enter God's presence, was literally torn in two. He made a way for us, through His own son, and rocked history from top to bottom. And we, his church, are still part of this great story. What an amazing truth. And suddenly Easter baskets lose their luster. :)
Leave it to God's word and the holy spirit to move me to tears on that Maundy Thursday afternoon. And if God's word wasn't enough to get me into the spirit of Holy Week, our Maundy Thursday dinner at Ross and Megan's was it. Megan invited each one of our If:Table girls and our husbands over for a special "Last Supper" dinner party. Because their kitchen and dining area wasn't big enough to hold all fourteen of us, she transformed her unfinished basement into an upper room, complete with kraft paper walls, a simple but elegant table, and globe lights strung from the ceiling for some ambience. Let's just say if Megan was one of the twelve, the table would have been styled to a tee. :) Each course included a food that was likely served at the last supper - a broth and potato soup slow cooked, tabbouleh salad, bitter greens with an olive oil dressing, grapes and olives, and tilapia, and each course came with an accompanying piece of scripture to read. It was light-hearted and special, and such a sweet way to spend this night surrounded with people that have become such wonderful friends. And the nachos, french fries, and chocolate martinis we shared afterwards before relieving baby-sitters were pretty great, too. :)
We had made it to Good Friday, the work week was done, and I was ready to embrace the special weekend ahead with my three favorite people. More Easter fun to come, but a preview of a few of my favorite moments...