rotating header

Friday, April 22, 2011

on the night in which he was betrayed

This phrase echoes in the wake of Passover.   Knowing that the rush of events was reaching a critical point, knowing that Judas had already moved across the line of betrayal in his heart, knowing that the most intense physical and spiritual agony was impending, Jesus reclined and feasted with his closest friends.  "He loved them to the end" . . . by washing their feat, inviting them to eat, breaking bread, reminding them of the huge story of redemption just as they were about to be plunged into a crisis of faith.  He created the context for meaning as they moved into the unthinkably painful hours of apparent defeat ahead.  Wine, bread, roasted meat, bitter herbs; scripture, promises, singing, conversation, encouragement; a moment of closure and a sort of good-bye before they walked out into the night of Gethsamane and the dark day of Golgotha. And he did this not just with those who "deserved" the attention, but with the very man who would within hours betray him to his death.  He washed Judas' feet; he handed Judas the unleavened bread; he poured Judas the cups of sanctification, plagues, redemption and praise.  Willingly.

We celebrated Passover last night, too, in remembrance.  This weekend is usually an intense time in our lives, the end of Lent, a team Passover, A Good Friday service with the local church with seven mini-sermons about Jesus' words on the cross, fasting, watching the Passion, a half-night or all-night prayer vigil on Friday, something for kids on Saturday involving egg hunts or acting out the story, a Sunday sunrise service with neighbors and team in the yard followed by Easter breakfast, a major-event church service again, then an all-afternoon team and friends meal with tables outdoors and games and leisure.  So it is a bit of another transition to spend our first holiday here, to rub up against the ways that it is different, to decide what to keep for continuity and what to let go of.  It is peculiar to find that in Kenya, at least here at Kijabe, there is no Good Friday service, and nothing about Easter was even mentioned last Sunday (no mention of it being Palm Sunday either).  We don't really have a team anymore to make plans with, which eliminates most of the traditions.  We will join the RVA-planned Easter Sunrise service and breakfast (hopefully, we're both on call . . .), but that is the only "happening" that I know of.   Mostly we are in observe-and-lay-back mode, trying to take this year as a sabbatical-sort-of time, trying to be OK with the periphery. But Passover is the favorite part of the weekend for the kids, and one of the non-negotiables of the holiday, so I invited the family we lived next to when we first arrived who have been so kind to us (Americans, long-term missionaries taking one year at Kijabe on behalf of the AIC's theological college), and the doctor I work with most closely with and his dentist wife (Indians who are here for part of a year in between finishing training in India and starting post-graduate training programs in the US).   This was a new tradition for them, so felt a little risky, but they were game for the hours-long ceremony and meal, candlelight and readings and parsley sprigs in salty water, the tears, or matzah dipped in sweet apple kharoset, the joy in the midst of labor.  

As I was getting ready, toiling over rolling out the matzah crackers and baking them, I know my heart was not like Jesus'.  No one here is going to betray me in more than the normal human friction of small disappointments and misunderstandings, but I'm sure I had less freedom of love in my heart.  I was trying to get things settled in the NICU so I could get the cooking done and feeling the push; I was wondering if I had invited an incompatible mix or if my kids would be OK.  I find my soul frequently weighted with uncertainty about what my role is, and grudging service.  So far from the way Jesus approached the night.

So I pray for healing and love, for the Jesus-attitude of sharing himself freely, even on the night in which he was betrayed.  For the ability to recline and feast in the face of suffering, for the ability to enjoy the goodness of friends and family even when loss is imminent.  For the rhythm of connecting to tradition even when history is about to turn the defining corner.  For love that overcomes betrayal.  

No comments: