WED in HOLY WEEK: 6 pm Stations of the Cross on FB
Psalm 70 ; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Hebrews 12:1-3; John 13:21-32
The Passover meal, the Seder, which should be held tonight is a family celebration, a teaching moment. Shout out to my Jewish friends: same’ah hag Pesakh. “The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher,” starts our reading from Isaiah today. Part of honoring our mother–for Judaism surely is the mother of Christianity–should be to pay attention to the lessons momma is trying to pass along.
Family celebration: yes, I know that lots of people are single, widowed, divorced, never married, just getting started in life in a new town not knowing anyone, sitting in a locked-down nursing home unable to be physically with kids and grandkids. Yes, I know that. But for those of you blessed with family, remember that the Seder is an act of worship built around the dinner table. Remember that the altars of our churches were originally dinner tables in the living rooms of the bishop or priest of the town, where the Christian family gathered around bread and wine, prayers and Scripture. No, passing around a baguette and sharing a cup of merlot with your family tonight will not “be” the Eucharist. But a prayerful, intentional meal can be an act of grace all its own, and in a time of isolation and loneliness and fear such a grace will surely be a comfort and a strength.
Teaching moment: yes, I know that Sunday school and Bible studies are more or less off-line right now (although our middle school and high school youth groups have Zoom pages, the ladies Tues night Bible study is doing the same, and Kat Mercer is doing fantastic work with weekly educational/formation resources on FB “Formation in the South”). But an hour or two a week isn’t the heart of Christian formation anyway: it’s a bonus. The vast majority of what we learn about God and His interactions with His people, about Jesus and His sacrifice and triumph, about the Spirit and how s/he continues to guide and guard the faithful, is from one another. So when you’re at the table, talk about how your faith is helping you through this moment–or how this moment is challenging you to reexamine some of your faith. Be honest–some of our habits of faith are probably too soft, too simple, too scripted to bear up under pressure like this. I know some of my habits of faith are. Talk about that. Tie it to a Bible story–it’s Holy Week, why not read the stories together as you’re dishing up the salad? Jesus surely understands something about anxiety and pain, right? Maybe that is a story that could be of immediate service.
“Next year in Jerusalem” is how the Seder ends. A sign of hope in a world which, because we’re not in Jerusalem this year, obviously isn’t yet perfect. That too is a good teaching moment. Our lives were never perfect, our communities were never perfect, no matter how much we might have pretended otherwise. Simply acknowledging this without giving up longing and hope can also be a good lesson to bring to our present reality. Next year in Jerusalem, or at least, next year in one another’s close and loving proximity. In the meantime, turn your table into an altar and teach and learn and long and yearn.