Easter Week: The Last Supper

IMG_2683 edit“It was now just before the Passover Feast, and Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the very end….Jesus knew that the Father had delivered all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was returning to God. (John 13:1, 3)

“When evening came, Jesus was reclining with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating, He said to them, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray Me.”

They were deeply grieved and began to ask Him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”

Jesus answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed. It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

Then Judas, who would betray Him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said it yourself.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, spoke a blessing and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is My body.”

Then He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:20-30)

IMG_2684 edit.jpgI can only begin to imagine the range and depth of emotion coursing through Jesus on this night.

Urgency?  This was His very last chance to teach and instruct His disciples, and prepare them for what lay ahead.

Love?  He tenderly washed their feet.  He comforted them.  He prayed for them, and for all who would believe in Him thereafter.

Dread?  He knew that by morning, He would be arrested, betrayed by one of His own inner circle, turned on by the fickle crowds of Jesusalem, sentenced to cruel death.

Anxiety?  Later in the night, we know that He shed His first drops of blood not on the cross, but in Gethsemane as He agonized over what was coming.

Sorrow?  He told Peter, “My soul is consumed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38)

Fear?  In His humanity, He asked His Father that He might be spared the agony that He knew awaited Him.

Abandonment?  He watched one of his inner circle walk out the door intent upon betrayal.  He asked his remaining eleven friends to pray with him; he found them sleeping.  Later, they would all run away or claim they never knew Him.

And yet, determination?  He told His Father, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it is for this purpose that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!” (John 12:27-28)

September Rain

IMG_7026.JPGI’m hurrying to finish my errands on a gray and rainy day, wishing I had brought an umbrella.  I’m focusing on the heavy clouds and the moisture seeping uncomfortably into my shoes.  I almost missed it.  But the tiny flash of color caught my eye as I passed and I turned back to look.  And there, out of the blue, in the last place a country girl expects to capture the essence of autumn, there’s this single leaf, liquid golden-yellow against a city sidewalk wet with September rain.

Before you know it, I’m running back to my car for my camera, ignoring the great drops splashing on my head as I lean in to capture this one small, brilliant taste of fall—and suddenly grateful for the rain that saturates the colors and makes it shine.  Even in the rain, He gives good gifts, if only we have our eyes open to see—and sometimes they’re all that much better because of it.

“…Rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful…” (Joel 2:23)

 

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Rainbows

pieces of rainbow / rejoicing hillsIt’s been a week of thunderstorms, the short and fierce kind that make us worry it’s going to hail on our newly transplanted tomato plants out in the garden, followed by brilliant sunshine that turns the freshly soaked landscape into a saturated sparkling sweep of color.  It’s been glorious to watch the great white-topped thunderheads float by, billowing and building miles high, and watch the rain sweep in, pounding the earth.  But most splendid of all have been the rainbows.

Multiple rainbows.  Double rainbows.  Bright rainbows.  Pale rainbows.  Whole, unbroken rainbows.  Barely-there-against-the-pink-of-sunset-cloud rainbows.  Pieces of rainbow.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in one week!rainbow / rejoicing hillsI find it ironic that physical rainbows have been so prevalent on a week when symbolic rainbows are creating such excitement and discussion in the news.

You know, the rainbow has been symbolic since long before any humans claimed it for their own personal causes.  In fact, it was one of the very first symbols designated in history of the world, by God Himself.  It starts out as a sad story—sin is rampant on the earth and God in His righteous anger sweeps it clean with a flood.  But it has a happy ending.  He preserves one godly family and two of every animal and brings them back to safety when the cleansing flood has receded.  He leaves them with a promise never to destroy the earth again in this manner—and the gift of a stunning sign in the heavens.rainbow over barn / rejoicing hills

“And God said,

“This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:

I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  

When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.”  (Genesis 9:12-15)sunset rainbow and moon / rejoicing hillsWhat I find particularly beautiful about this is that God didn’t just give this sign as a reminder to us of His promise.  He also gave it as a sign to remind Himself of His promise.  Every time He sees a rainbow, He remembers, too.

And so, in the midst of all this talk of rainbows, and in the wake of storms natural and spiritual, I find my mind turning not to modern connotations, but to the fact that God is faithful.  Because this is what a rainbow really represents:

That He is in control.

That He made the earth and all that is in it.

That He can destroy it or He can preserve it—the choice and the power are His.

That He is righteous and just—and that He is also merciful.

That He keeps His promises.  rainbow with swans / rejoicing hillsWhen you think about rainbows this week, remember that.

Because She Loves Pink

china rose / rejoicing hillsBecause my mom’s favorite color is pink, it seems only fitting to post these pictures on Mother’s Day.  Even more fitting, because the pictures of this splendid china rose just bursting into bloom were taken in my husband’s grandmother’s yard—so this is really in honor of the mothers on both sides of our family.  Aren’t these flowers beautiful?  But certainly no more so than the beautiful spiritual heritage our mothers passed down to both my husband and I.  We are so grateful!

“I greatly desire to see thee…that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice, and, I am persuaded, is in thee also.”  (2 Timothy 1:4-5)

china rose / rejoicing hillschina rose / rejoicing hillschina rose / rejoicing hillsP.S.  I took these pictures in the rain.  Thank you Lord—we needed it!