March 27, 2013
The first Bible that was my own was a white leather one with a zipper that closed it. The zipper pull was a little cross. Most of the girls my age had the same Bibles. Boys were given black ones. My childish handwriting inside the cover of my first Bible says that it was a gift from the Easter Bunny.
Years later when the New English Bible came out, my parents thought it would be the text for the new generation, and they presented each of their children with a copy inscribed with our names and the date in my Dad’s handwriting. That was the Bible I used the most for years, until I lost it. I lost it during the time I was living in Iqaluit. I looked all over the house, and asked at the Anglican church, where I attended on Sundays, and at the Catholic church, where our United Church house church met. I thought it would turn up when I moved, but it didn’t. I asked around about it again the next couple of times I visited Iqaluit, but to no avail. I actually had another copy of that version by then, but the one from my parents was special, especially after they had both passed on. Eventually, I gave up and accepted that it was gone. We shouldn’t get too tied to possessions anyway.
Then sometime last year I heard from Rebekah, my friend and work colleague from the Nunavut Department of Justice. She had found my Bible. It was at her house. I don’t have any recollection now how it got there, but she had it. I was ecstatic. When Rebekah came to visit in October she brought it with her. It is so good to have my old Bible home.
I don’t really know what led me to tell that long story except that with Easter coming, I was thinking of receiving that first Bible on an Easter past………….. and my thoughts went on from there.
Last Sunday, as I sat in church enjoying a wonderful Palm Sunday presentation of music interwoven with the familiar stories from scripture, I got thinking about the Last Supper. It’s one of the most powerful images in the Bible because it is so normal. It’s a group of friends sitting around a table sharing a special meal. We can all recognize that and place ourselves around such a table. Most of us can think of a table we have been at with loved ones that we remember later as the last time we shared a meal or a special occasion with a particular loved one. I imagine the disciples thinking back to that evening, marvelling at what they didn’t understand at the time about what was coming. Jesus had been trying to prepare them but they didn’t know what to make of it at the time. I imagine Jesus being torn between wanting to protect his beloved friends from the harsh reality of what lay ahead, and at the same time wanting to share with them the burden of the ordeal he knew he would face.
When we read the story on Maundy Thursday, or in a shorter way any time we do communion, it all seems so clear. The significance of that meal has carried powerfully through the centuries. For those who lived it, though, it may have been as confusing as the events of our own lives are when we are in the midst of them.
May your journey through Holy Week be filled with insight, wondering, and joy.