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Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday,

Holy Thursday,

I have a collection of favorite photos from when my kids were little. Brothers piloting a cardboard box. Toddler asleep in the tree swing. Preschoolers frolicking in a fountain. They’re treasures, each one. Records of some of my best moments, reminders of how precious life really is. Was I mindful of how quickly their childhood would pass, as I took these photos? People certainly told me to be, and I know I got the message on some level. Years back, my oldest fell asleep in the car, and as I carried him to bed, I realized just how gigantic he had become. I’d thought this was my baby, not an 80lb. bag of rice, and as I lugged him up the porch steps I actually asked myself, “Is this it? Is this the last time I will pick this person up?” I think it was. He’s bigger than me, now. Lately, memories of my kids’ youngest years bring a mixture of not only joy and enormous pride that I am their father, but also some measure of remorse. I wish I had appreciated the glorious moments perfectly, as they happened. I wish I hadn’t been stressed and preoccupied so much. I cherish the memory of the snowman we all built that time, but I know that I probably filled the rest of that day with irritation and stress about things I can’t even remember now. Seems like a waste, seems like my kids deserved better from me. You may recognize these emotions in yourself, looking back on days gone by. The pandemic has certainly spurred this kind of reflection, right? How many things about ‘ordinary life’ did we utterly take for granted (for years!), when we should’ve treated them like small miracles? The glorious banality of school, or the precious joy of live music and travel and hugs. How many family gatherings did you treat like a chore, and not a gift, before they started getting canceled? Have you thought this past year about bygone things that you wish you had appreciated more? I am certain that people who knew and loved Jesus felt these feelings after he died. He had been right there with them, in the flesh, and later when they were missing him, some cursed themselves for not perceiving the importance of moments that were now gone forever. “It’s so obvious now, but at the time I didn’t get it… just how important the time we had really was…” Most people who’d met Jesus never saw him resurrected, but even those who did, got barely a glimpse or a meal or a talk on the side of the road with him before he left for heaven. I imagine longing and regret among many of the faithful, who began to cherish their time with Jesus too late when they’d never see him on earth again. It’s a hard truth, but there’s no getting around it: what’s done is done. There is no turning back the clock. We can’t have former days back again. And of course, we’re not supposed to. Life isn’t meant to have a rewind button. But there is something we are supposed to do, across the long span of life that unfolds after critical moments with beloved people. The thing we’re supposed to do is: remember. On the last night Jesus spent with his disciples, they gathered in an upstairs room and shared a meal. 12 of the 13 present would deny that it was their final supper together. They’d have scarcely been able to imagine that, but Jesus knew. And even though they’d never have that evening back, he wanted to show them there was a way to keep the spirit of the hour, forever. Jesus took bread and wine, shared it with his friends, and told them, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Memories live in our thoughts and in our dreams, it’s true, but we’re wrong to think of them as matters of the mind, alone. Remembering is a sacred activity; it is an enterprise; it takes your whole self – hands, head, heart. When we elect to remember, we commit to living out our inheritance of wisdom and values, across days, generations, centuries. It is a choice, to hold on to the trials and the beauty that formed us. This is why Jesus didn’t tell his disciples simply to think about him in the days to come; he gave them something to do. Gather to eat. Give and receive. Experience the nourishment of bread and community. Live the remembrance, and what you remember will remain alive Pastor Rob Leveridge

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