"1The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: . . . 14This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. . . . 24 You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children. 25 When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this observance. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” ( Ex12:1a;14 &24-26)
And so, it begins. The beginning of the end. Or so it seems - to Jesus, to his family, to his followers. The plot to hand-over Jesus has been put in motion. What does Jesus do? He gives the directions to faithfully observe the Passover rituals of his Jewish faith. After all, he was born a Jew, lived as a Jew, and will die a Jew.
Would I do the same if I knew I was nearing the end of my earthly life? I don't know, but it gives me pause to wonder. Sometimes Christian churches observe a traditional Seder meal in memory of the last supper. Sometimes, we have recreated the last hours and walked to Calvary with Jesus. As a child and teen, my family observed three hours of absolute silence from noon to 3 o'clock on Good Friday. However we choose to remember, these next days are deep spiritual ones. We must not forget nor treat them casually.
And so, it begins. The beginning of the end. Or so it seems. But we know the 'rest of the story. That the suffering, deep grief and hopelessness of the next few days is temporary. For we serve a risen Savior! Ginger Mason
2 Cor 9: 7" Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (NIV)
Today's Upper Room devotion contains the word tithe. A word that immediately, at least for Don and me, causes stress. Is that because we only think about a tithe as financial contributions to church? Maybe.
But when I consider the T-word as giving just a tiny portion of what God has blessed me with - gifts of time, talent, and resources, my heart, and head, is filled with gratitude. And I can begin to slowly open my tightly closed fist and give up my fear of 'never enough.'
There was a photo on Facebook this week. It said, "The earth provides enough to satisfy every person's need, but not every person's greed." When do I stop gathering more than I need, more than my portion, and begin to share, with a cheerful heart, what I have been given? Give ten percent, and keep ninety? Not much when I think, especially during Holy Week, about all God has given to me, to everyone - the gift of his son, Jesus, so we could know that God's love for his creation has no limits.
God gives not 10%, but 100%. Ginger Mason
1John 1:7a "[B]ut if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another...."
Today’s Upper Room reading is from a collector of flashlights who then compares the light provided by the flashlight to Jesus, the light of the world.
One night at Trinity’s Christmas Eve candlelight worship, as usual, the sanctuary lights were turned off and we were plunged into darkness. It was as the flame, begun by the Christ candle, was passed from hand to hand that I became aware that the darkest spot was below my lighted candle. It was only when I moved my candle close to others at my side that their light diffused the darkness in which I was standing.
Think, too, about when we use a flashlight to penetrate the dark. Where is it darkest? Everywhere behind the beam of the light! We remain in darkness until someone shines a beam on us.
I need others in my life to share their light with me so that I begin to see my own darkness. It is in fellowship with others who live in the light of God’s love that my darkness begins to lighten. Thank you to all the light holders in my life. Ginger Mason
Mark 16:1 "When the sabbath was over...."
In today's reading, we look ahead to the miracle of Easter Sunday. But there is much that will happen this week between yesterday's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and Jesus' triumph over death. Lest we forget the steps that still must be walked between party and victory over death, here's the rest of the story.
Monday of Holy Week isn't remarkable enough to be recorded in the Gospel of Mark, but I'm sure it was a busy time. No time to bask in the shouts of Hosanna. The donkey had to be returned to its owner, preparations begun for the Passover meal, the Jewish leaders plotting to stop this upstart, this Galilean nobody, who was threatening their power and prestige, the Roman authorities on alert for any trouble that might disturb the 'peace' that they are determined to maintain.
What about Jesus? We can only imagine that he feels the time is short to remind his followers of all that he has taught them in the three short years they have traveled together. "What have I told you?" "What do you remember?" "Tell me!" And so the hours pass, inexorably, inescapably, taking them to Good Friday. Lest we forget the steps, minutes and pain in between today and Easter! Ginger Mason
The concept of theTrinity is often difficult for people to understand. Christianity says that Jesus was fully God and fully human. That means that as Hebrews says, "He was tempted in every way as are we." Today's author rightly points out that if Jesus didn't really experience our "issues" he would be as remote as many other religions' gods seem to be. As we begin Holy Week, let us ponder what it means that in Jesus, God became fully human, entering completely into our situation. Only then will we fully grasp what it means that "Jesus arose from the dead," and what it means for those of us who are flesh, bone, and blood.
NOTE: As we come to the conclusion of our interactive blog on the daily Upper Room readings, Ginger Mason has agreed to intitiate each day's blog during Holy Week. Thank you Ginger, and thank you all who have been following. - Larry Baird