It's Maundy Thursday, the day Christians celebrate Jesus' last supper with his disciples. This is the meal during which Jesus took an ordinary loaf of bread, blessed it, and proclaimed it his broken body, given for them. They didn't know at the time that he was foretelling his death 12 hours later.
This morning, looking forward to Easter, I put on Christian music and logged into work. I should do that more often; it was very uplifting. At lunchtime I was even singing (that's one of the benefits of working from home). Then I gave a friend a quick call.
"You're cheerful today! How's work going?," he asked.
"Awful," I replied. "I have to work this weekend. We're unprepared for the launch, and it's on Monday."
"You're dealing with it really well."
And I was; I managed to stay peaceful through the chaos. How was that possible? Often, I don't succeed.
I brought God into the chaos. That made all the difference.
I love Easter week. I love this time to slow down and pray; to reflect on God; to have time away. I go to church every day from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday, and try to stay prayerful throughout the week. So it isn't an ordinary long weekend I'm giving up; it is the most important week of the year for Christians, one that is deeply meaningful to me. I love delving deeply into this week centuries ago, remembering Jesus' last days with his disciples, his teaching, his actions, his words, his sacrifice, and finally, his resurrection. But even as I regretted missing some of it during a frantic day at work, I managed to sing.
I have to confess that I can't always do this. On Wednesday, after taking a break to enjoy one of our first spring days with a walk in the park, I was on a teleconference before I got back to the car. Unfortunately, that peace didn't last; after a 13 hour work day, I ran away to escape the chaos of the kitchen. Today I did better, and I'm grateful.
At church tonight, singing Taizé hymns (short, repetetive choruses that become meditations), I tried to pull into my soul how much God loves us. God didn't deny anything for us, not even death, on a cross. Falsely accused of being a liar for calling himself the son of God, we killed him for the audacity of saying so. But who else walks on water? Who else heals the blind? Who else quickens our souls with the profound parables and teachings that draw us to God the Father, even after two millenia? Who else prayed,
"Our Father, who is in heaven, holy be your name. We long for your kingdom; help us bring it on earth. We need daily bread; help us to trust that you will provide it. We're so in need of forgiveness; help us to generously give it. We're tempted and weak; give us the strength to resist it."
In every way, Jesus lived out that he is the son of God, and we didn't recognise him. I want to see it.
I've been a follower of Jesus virtually my whole life. God revealed to me that he was the creator of the universe, and my heavenly Father, when I was only an infant; I've always known it. And yet I have trouble seeing it in my daily life. So I tried to pull the depth of God's love into my soul tonight. It's limitless. It's intimate. It's sacrificial. It's the kind of love that won't deny dying for me, willingly, but only for the joy of being with me, drawing me into God's presence, being my brother, freeing me from that burden of guilt that's been chasing me almost as long as the sense of being a child of God has. God wants to free me to live the life he wants us all to know, safe in the Father's arms.
The big message of Easter is, "You are loved. You are safe. There's nothing that you can do that will make me love you less. In fact, everything that you have done that separates you from me (not me from you), I erase. I'm going to wash it all away, with my own blood."
This Easter, I encourage you to reflect on the great God. He gives his bounty to all the creatures, and to you. His mercy is new every morning, like the dawn. He knows all your guilty secrets, and decided to do something about it – not to punish you, but to bring you back into the arms of the Father. Breathe him in today. Breathe him into your soul – that deep, deep love. That wonderful safety. The knowledge that the God of the universe, who has all of the resources in the world, knows your needs, and will take care of them. Even those who die without them (usually because of human greed and violence) will live again with the riches of heaven. God will make right even that gross injustice, so make yourself right with him. If there's something between you and him, or you've forgotten how much he loves you, or you haven't realised it yet, go and pray.
Your first prayer might be, "God, if there is a God, please show me you're there, and if you love me. Help me to see you. Help me to know the truth. I seek truth more than hypocrisy, or fantasy, or my own worldview. Please show me the way." Many years after my early revelation, I prayed that prayer during an extended "dark night of the soul." It took a long time, but God finally answered. Even if that's the only prayer you can honestly pray, I encourage you to pray it today.
I'm so grateful that I spent today remembering that God is with me in the chaos of life – in my deadlines; in my work; the my mess; even in the way I disappoint myself, and others. But in the deepest sense of this truth, I don't disappoint God at all; he loves me that much. And I can't wait to become the person that God has created me to be.
Have a blessed day and Easter.