Christiana Lutheran presents Living Last Supper
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Rev. Carl M. Haynes
For the Salisbury Post
For centuries before Jesus came to earth, each year when the spring harvest began, the Jewish people were instructed to remember the Israelites being set free from slavery in Egypt by observing Passover.
Ritual prayers of blessing were learned and recited. All leaven was removed from the house, a specific set of foods was prepared for this occasion and a ceremony was performed by each family through which the story of the Exodus was retold.
The instructions for the Passover Feast were given to Moses before the Ten Commandments. It pre-dates all other Jewish feasts, and its importance was made clear when Jesus chose to celebrate this feast during his last hours.
At the first Passover, a lamb was killed and its blood smeared on the doorposts of the house. The angel of death saw the blood and passed over that home. Those inside were saved by the blood of the lamb. It is significant that Jesus takes this feast and introduces what has become the sacrament of Holy Communion in the Christian faith. Jesus says the bread is his body and the wine is his blood given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus, the promised Messiah, the sinless Son of God, is about to die, to sacrifice his life for the sins of the world. Now by his blood, all who believe in him are saved from sin and death.
Christiana Lutheran Church presented the Living Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, the night that Jesus instituted the Last Supper, as a visual proclamation of that event. Thirteen men portraying Jesus and his 12 disciples re-enacted the events of that night according to the gospels of Matthew and John. Each of the disciples had a short monologue based on scripture and historical information. Each one reflected on his relationship with Christ and the disturbing announcement by Jesus that one of them would betray him. Each disciple ended his monologue asking Jesus, “Is it I?”
Anthems sung by the Chancel Choir of Christiana, directed by Becky Morris, were interspersed throughout the program to underscore the biblical truths presented by the disciples, to augment their monologues and to focus on significant events not covered by the drama.
When the Son of God called these 12 men to be his disciples and then apostles to establish the New Testament Church, he chose men who were flawed in character, people just like you and me. They were not saints and certainly nowhere near perfect. They were works in progress, men whose characters needed to be shaped, molded and directed according to God’s ways.
The same is true for you and me. We are sinners ó people in need of forgiveness, of hope, of salvation. It was our intention that this drama would serve as a reminder that God is not finished with any of us, and that every one of us is guilty of denying and betraying Jesus by virtue of our sinfulness.
But the good news is that Christ’s love and mercy won for us on the cross is for all.
Later that evening, Jesus was arrested, tried and convicted of crimes he did not commit. The next day he was crucified. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, displaying his mighty power over sin and death.
That is Easter ó the Day of Resurrection that the church celebrates. Because Jesus lives, all who believe in him receive new life now and hope of eternal life in the world to come.
Jesus is still with us. He promises that where two or three are gathered in his name, he is there with them. He also comes to us in the bread and wine of Holy Communion, giving us his body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. As we partake of his body and blood, we are strengthened and nourished to continue his mission to carry the good news of salvation in Jesus’ name to all the world.
The Rev. Carl M. Haynes is pastor of Christiana Lutheran Church.