Dear Church Family,
Our scripture today comes from Jesus’ words in Luke.
Then Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” –Luke 22:19
We have entered the season of eggs. Surely you have seen them sold everywhere from the grocery store to the gas station. Plastic Easter eggs line the shelves and will soon line the counters of many kitchens as children bring home these treasures. As Christians, it is a difficult route to connect Christ’s life, death and resurrection to the eggs of a chicken. The eggs, in fact, have nothing to do with Easter at all. They were part of a pre-Christian fertility celebration that happened about the same time of year as Easter and so the symbol was brought in and made an Easter symbol as well.
Some might poo-poo this movement saying that we shouldn’t utilize anything that is not strictly biblical. But perhaps we can look at it another way. When early Christians saw those fertility rite eggs they could not help but think about the new life Jesus brings and so they added them to the vast array of symbols that speak of our faith. That is what we do when we follow Jesus closely. We look at the world and we cannot help but see Jesus in it.
Today I would like to share with you my favorite Holy Week symbol that Christians have borrowed and used for their own. It is not a chicken but it is a bird known as the Pelican In Her Piety. A pre-Christian legend told of how, in a time of famine, a pelican would pierce her own breast to feed her young with her own blood. She would sacrifice herself to save her children. It is not a surprise that, as early as the second century, Christians are writing about this Pelican and using her symbol to speak of Christ’s death and sacrifice. Christian pilgrims would wear a pelican badge with the blood represented by red gemstones. Churches around the world used the image of the pelican in their sanctuaries, carved into the woodwork or sewn into the parament cloths. There is even a Chrismon ornament of the Pelican that churches hang on their Chrismon trees. You can see an example of that here.
Was this image originally a Christian one? No. But Christians saw it and they knew immediately they could see Christ in it. That is the power we have as those who follow him. We see this world and all its images AND we can see beyond them to the way they point to our beloved Savior. During this Holy Week and Easter season, look around. Take in the eggs and the crosses and the rabbits and the lilies and consider how they point to Jesus.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, this Sunday we begin the holiest week of the year. Help us to follow you all the way to the cross. And then, we pray, do not leave us there but take us to the empty tomb as well. In all we see and hear this week help us to see and hear you in it. In your gracious name we pray. Amen.
Christ’s Peace be with you all,