A Good Friday Gathering

One of my favorite moments in the life of Jesus is the Last Supper.  I am amazed reading about the conversations, the washing of the disciples’ feet, the broken bread and wine poured out.  This year was the first week in my life that I ever reflected each day of Holy Week on the last week of Jesus’ life. It was profound and moving and I am so thankful for the friends, bloggers and scripture that led me to such reflection.

In our Noblesville Gathering, we have so many leaders who weekly open their homes, prepare and study to facilitate small groups or teach, cook for the masses and give sacrificially.  I wanted to do something special for those leaders this Easter season, and the idea for a Good Friday communion dinner was born.

I enlisted the help of my mom with the food and got busy with the preparations.  I found various white dishes at Goodwill, ironed tablecloths, bought and arranged simple flowers, made simple place cards, arranged a variety of white candles and made a few sides and a salad.  It was an act of love for many of those who serve alongside my family week in and week out.

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I watched as Jimmie prepared the unleavened bread.  I felt like I was witnessing a holy moment, the loving preparation of the bread to be broken in honor of Jesus and his broken body.

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We ate our salads and Jimmie began to talk about the significance of the bread and the wine.  He described how we “do this in remembrance of Him” in a way that is more than just mimicking the actions of Jesus at the Last Supper.  We pour ourselves out for others the way the blood of Jesus was poured out for all humanity.  Our bodies are broken and sacrificed for others the way that the body of Jesus was broken and bruised.  This is honoring the meaning behind the Last Supper beyond eating bread and drinking wine.  This is what we do in remembrance of Jesus.

We passed the wine and grape juice.  We passed the unleavened bread, breaking a piece off and passing it along.  We prayed.  We cried.  We drank the wine and ate the bread, both remembering Calvary and committing to serve the lost, broken, lonely and hurting.

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My grandmother was to my left, my mom to her left.  My daughter was to my right, sitting between mom and dad.  Four generations together, three of them women who have loved Jesus, served others and dedicated themselves to the cause of Christ… one who is learning to do the same.  As I cried and prayed, drank and ate, she did the same.  My arm held her close.  She heard my prayers, felt my tears on her hair.  It was beautiful and powerful and holy.  It was what remembering is all about and I will not forget.

As we finished, my mom and I brought out the meal.  We passed plates, served each other heaping spoonfuls of beef and noodles, mashed potatoes, corn and rolls.  We laughed and talked, a community breaking bread for a common purpose.

After we cleared plates, while we were still sitting at the table, my dear friend Heidi began to pass around small pieces of black fabric.  She reminded us of the scripture of the veil of the temple being rent, top to bottom when Christ died.  She told us many believe that veil was three inches thick and possibly 30×60 feet.  She talked about the priests of the Old Testament being the only ones to have access to the presence of God.  She reminded us that while we often may feel far from God, the veil has been rent and we have access to him.  She reminded us that even when God is quiet, he is with us.  She asked that we pray and that when we felt led, we tear our fabric, representing our barrier from God being destroyed.  She asked that we keep those two pieces in our Bibles as a reminder of our access to God.

The room grew loud with the prayers.  I sobbed, wanting to break down into a puddle on the floor, while also wanting to shout victoriously.  Such is the message of the cross.  I had chills and felt the power of God when I began to hear the sound… the loud sound of that fabric being torn at our table.

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I am so thankful for all of those who came and participated in an evening that was such a blessing to my family.  I am thankful for friends, not only the ones who were at that dinner, but all of them, who live their lives with me…. who love me unconditionally… who stretch me and support me…. who are figuring it out with me…. who love Jesus passionately with me…. who give sacrificially with me…. who aren’t afraid to remember….. and most importantly, who aren’t afraid to take up their cross and do this in remembrance of me.

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What I Gather About Snares

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If it had not been the LORD who was on our side – let Israel now say -

If it had not been the LORD who was on our side when people rose up against us,

Then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;

Then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;

Then over us would have gone the raging waters.

Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth!

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!

Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124)

Flood, torrent, raging waters…. Mine was grief.  A flood of grief.  A torrent of grief.  Raging waters of grief.  Grief swallowed me alive at times.

My father, a shining beacon of strength and faith, was taken, ravaged by cancer, at my young age of 16.  The grief was natural.  I probably unknowingly went through the classic stages.  Somewhere along the new trajectory of my life, though, the grief became a snare.  What had been a natural response to the loss of a loved one became a snare that caged me in.  I was angry at God.  I blamed my poor choices on my monumental loss.  I set unrealistic expectations for myself, trying to honor the memory of my father.  I rarely expressed my grief out loud.  Panic attacks began, but few knew.  I became a pretender, capable of appearing fine to anyone and everyone.  Meanwhile my broken heart affected nearly every thought passing through my head.

The transition to healing is fuzzy in my mind.  My broken heart was eventually mended by my Healer.  Part of the healing process took place as a result of that line in bold in Psalm 124.

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!

In my times of prayer, I had an image in my head of myself as a bird, flying out of a snare.  To my amazement, after leaving, I would turn around and fly right back into the trap.  That soft, still voice began to deal with me.  He wanted the snare to be BROKEN.  Only when that snare of debilitating grief was truly broken could I be truly free.

Grief certainly isn’t the only snare I have faced in my life.  Many of us find ourselves in snares, sometimes without even realizing it.  Maybe it is a snare of:

Grief

Fear

Anxiety

Depression

Bitterness

Anger

Maybe it something else entirely.  Many of these emotions are natural.  But when they become a flood, a torrent or raging waters that swallow us alive, we must reach out for help.  Often turning to a trusted friend is helpful.  Sometimes professional help is needed.  However, first and foremost, we must reach out to our Savior.

Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

I believe that so often He is there, waiting for us to cry out to him for help, wanting to step in on our behalf. His love for us is immense enough that He doesn’t want to see us waste away in a snare.  He wants us to soar.  Beyond that, He wants to BREAK THE SNARE!  Through the help of Jesus Christ we can be victorious and never return to our prison of shame, anger or worry.  Too often we have some type of spiritual breakthrough and experience a moment of freedom, only to fly right back into our snare.  Why?  We are assured in Galatians 5:1:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Have you ever found yourself in some type of spiritual snare?  Has anyone ever felt a momentary breakthrough or freedom, only to return to the same cage?  This is a great opportunity to share your story of freedom!  I sure would love to hear it!

Also, if you need prayer or support for an overwhelming situation in your life, please feel free to contact me.  God Bless and BE FREE!!

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