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From The Pastor's Desk

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Easter and Memory Making

Memory is an important feature of human life. What is it that makes something memorable for us? Many have suggested that this period of history fighting the corona virus with self isolation, lock downs and other precautionary actions will be a memory fixed in our minds much as were the events of 9/11 or, for those who went through it, the bombings of the second world war. If we were to characterize that which makes something memorable, perhaps we would point to its extraordinary nature. It stands out because it is so unusual.

In our readings around the Easter narratives, there is an event that Jesus said would be remembered forever. Jesus had announced to his disciples that he was going to Jerusalem where he would be betrayed (Matt 26:1-2). While at Bethany, he was invited to the house of Simon for a meal. During the meal, a woman entered, approached Jesus and broke a flask of very expensive ointment over him so that it flowed onto his head and over his body. Those who were reclining at the table with Jesus were appalled. How could this happen and why would Jesus not rebuke such a wasteful action on the part of this woman?

Jesus knew their thoughts and challenged their wrong thinking. He said that this woman had done a “beautiful thing” for him. Why was that so? Well because she had acted to prepare his body for his upcoming burial. Her action was a sacrificial act of service of remarkable proportions. She had taken what may very well have represented her entire wealth and spilled it out on Jesus! In this she was acknowledging the infinite value of what Jesus was about to do. How did she know this? Well John says that this woman was Mary, Lazarus' sister who had sat at Jesus' feet learning from him. There she had come to understand what it was that Jesus was going to do for sinners like her. So unusual and unique was her action that Jesus announced that wherever the gospel was preached, the memory of her would be preserved.

Several chapters earlier, Jesus had announced to his disciples that they were going to Jerusalem where he would be killed. What was the disciples response? Well James and John conspired with their mother to seek the places of prominence in the kingdom they were sure was coming! What they heard in Jesus' comments was an opportunity to get ahead personally. Their actions provoked the rest of the disciples who reacted because they had not acted first to seek those places of glory. This of course lead Jesus to teach his disciples about true greatness. He linked it directly to significant service.

Indeed, Jesus set the pattern for this did he not? What he was about to do exemplified his words about being great. “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28). One reason that Easter is memorable in the Kingdom sphere is because of the greatness of the service that was rendered. God in the person of the Son, died “the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). That is truly service beyond comprehension! It was this that caused the Father to “highly exalt him and to bestow upon him the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:9). It is therefore what fuels our worship at this Easter season.

But it also summons us to sacrificial service too. “If God so loved us, we ought to love one another also” (1 Jn 4:7). It is when we serve in this manner that we too make great memories for both those who serve and those who are served. For it is these kinds of actions that result in lasting memories in God's realm.

Pastor Byron