Tonight the Passover begins, the traditional retelling of the deliverance of the descendants of Abraham from their slavery in Egypt which involved unleavened bread (a bread of affliction, cooked in haste), bitter herbs, recitations and readings, and four cups of wine. This is a tradition we incorporated into our lives early in our marriage and have loved bringing its richness into the culture of our team communities, particularly last year when we had the entire East Africa field gathered on the coast at sunset to begin our retreat time together.
The cups have always fascinated me, the double-entendre of wine as blood and celebration, as sacrifice and joy, as wrath and redemption.
In reflecting on the holiday this year, I am deeply thankful that this is not a time to gloss over evil. This week, dozens of innocent travelers lost their lives standing in line at the airport or rushing to get a subway train in Brussels. In Bujumbura, grenades and an assassination. In Kampala, we have followed soberly as our friends from Mundri searched for their missing son, now paying for exhumation of remains in two different mass graves where the unclaimed indigent dead are piled, a fruitless exercise of horror and confusion. We still don't know what happened to Joseph, but his parents are increasingly convinced he was killed. From near Bundibugyo, one of the doctors we were able to get sponsorship for training is now back working and writes asking for prayer as tribal-based-fear continues to spark violent murders, he speaks of 17 in the last week (only half the toll of Brussels, but one-thousandth or less of the coverage). In America, people who should know better foment fear and hate and use phrases like carpet-bomb and water-board to stir up the same emotions that churn South Sudan into a disintegrating war of my-kind-takes-all and your-kind-loses. And all this is just the public and visible evil; the bulky weight of deceit and darkness and abuse and despair remains murkily obscure.
Evil, in short, abounds.
Jesus began his ministry pouring wine out of pots that held water; he ends pouring blood out of his own wounded side. The abundance of the first miracle can hardly shadow the abundance of the last, enough to fill all this broken world with redemption.