Luke 22 The Message (MSG)
The Passover Meal
22 1-2 The Feast of Unleavened Bread, also called Passover, drew near. The high priests and religion scholars were looking for a way to do away with Jesus but, fearful of the people, they were also looking for a way to cover their tracks.
3-6 That’s when Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot. He was one of the Twelve. Leaving the others, he conferred with the high priests and the Temple guards about how he might betray Jesus to them. They couldn’t believe their good luck and agreed to pay him well. He gave them his word and started looking for a way to betray Jesus, but out of sight of the crowd.
Friends, this has been a heavy week. The news of the death of Kobe, followed by the realization that his young daughter was lost as well, then more clarification of other children and moms and another dad, the pilot, all tapped into my own grief at the loss of my son and threatened to send me spiraling back to bed, devoid of hope. Next came Holocaust Remembrance day and with it the awareness that 6 million people were lost to us forever, that families were devastated and destroyed and our world will forever be gutted. The weight of loss, the anger at those who chose not to speak up for the marginalized, where could I possibly find hope again? When death comes to those who have achieved greatness and those whose names aren’t know outside of their families alike, the capriciousness of it all leaves me with little reason to believe that one person can really impact the greater good. With our very democracy threatened, seriously, what is the point? Unable to make sense of my grief and despair, I wanted to lay down. Instead, I went to Temple. As a Jesus follower, seeking out the voice of our local Rabbi may cause many to wonder if I have lost my way or my mind. It is possible that I have it all wrong, that I should stick with my traditions and not stray from the path that has led me back into hope. Yet I heard the invitation from God to go worship with people who know loss also, who understand how to find hope in the darkest of days, who keep showing up to do the work God has put before them. I want to temple and rediscovered hope.
The scripture readings this week in the book of Luke illustrate again and again that we live in a fallen world, that our basic humanity causes us to put pride over humility, the times we seek our own comfort over the needs of others, how we let our weariness win over doing the next right thing. The chief priests and scribes wanted Jesus gone but didnt’want anyone to know they were pulling the strings behind the scenes. Under the cover of secrecy they conspired to do evil and lured in Judas, a character we often mock as a sellout who could be bought so easily, cheaply. We have people in power today who are also conspiring behind the scenes, who want to alter the course of our country, who want to divide families and cage children and lock up people of color and defund our schools and and and. It is just too much, that people with money and influence can control the rest of us. But the plan always requires a Judas, someone to carry out evil, someone on the inside, someone to take the blame, someone who can be persuaded against all they know to be true. I have to wonder if I am that person? Is the currency used to buy my soul dispair? Can I allow my heart to harden to the needs of those around me, allow it to be starved of hope, crushed by fear and desperation? I want to be one of the 11 disciples, not Judas, but how tempting it is to close down, shut out, give up, retreat. Such actions are as cheaply purchased as the small bits of silver handed over to the one who would betray God.
I can’t promise to always make the choice to stand up to evil, yet for one more day I said no to hate and hopelessness and I went to temple. I heard a beautiful message about deep hope, a coming together to help carry the load that recognizes the trauma of today and offers support to deal with today. Not based on some utopian idea that tomorrow will be better, that young people will not die from tragic accidents or from addictions, that people in power will vote for the greater good, that black mothers can let go of fear every time their children walk out the door. A deeper hope, that we will come together today and do the next right thing, that we will speak up for those who have no voice, that we will refuse to be filled with hate and we won’t sell our brothers and sisters out for shiny pieces of glory or social status.
I want to temple and was reminded that our God gives us a new chance to embrace his children with every sunrise. Together we can restore our deep hope, we can agree to share our heartaches and our celebrations and show up even when we are too tired. Today I am praying for you all, that you might find the strength to reject the evil being offered. Won’t you pray for me as well? Let us chose today as the one where we seek not to cover our tracks but instead to pave the way so all can travel smoothly.