Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Yalim's Questions

I wrote this little retelling of the story of the Last Supper for a recent church service. I hope you enjoy it.

Yalim loved the celebration of Passover. Family and friends gathered together around the table, there was lots of good food, and her papa always led them in speaking lots of sacred words, although she didn’t understand all of that.
“What do they all mean, Papa?” Yalim asked the morning before the Passover celebration.
“They remind us that God brought our ancestors out of slavery,” said her Papa, checking the joint on a table he was repairing.
“But why were they slaves?” Yalim wanted to know. 
“So many questions, Yalim! We’ll talk about it later,” said Papa, turning to get more nails. “Now you must go and help your mother prepare.”
Yalim wandered into the house, where her Mama was stirring a pot of the apple mixture called haroseth. “Ah, Yalim,” said Mama, “go into the pantry, get a bowl of dates, and take them to the upstairs room.”
“But why upstairs, Mama? Aren’t we eating down here?”
“Some men are coming to the house to celebrate Passover,” Mama replied.
“Why aren’t they eating with us?” asked Yalim.
“Hush, child, you ask so many questions – go!” said her Mama, shaking her head and Yalim went, wondering all the while

Just as the family was about to sit down to the feast, the men showed up. They looked tired and dusty from the road, and the one who seemed to be their leader, the one they called Rabbi Jesus, had sad eyes. Her mama showed them upstairs, and then came back down to the Passover feast. A little while later, she leaned over and whispered to Yalim to take another pitcher of wine upstairs in case the men had run out.
Yalim crept in quietly, not wanting to disturb them, and began refilling the empty cups on the table. The sad-eyed Rabbi was speaking. He held up a piece of the matzoh bread and said, “This is my body.”
“That’s not right,” thought Yalim. She had just hear her Papa saying the ritual words at their own feast, so she knew this wasn’t the right thing to say.
A few moments later the sad-eyed man picked the cup she had just filled for him and said, “This is my blood.”
“That’s not right, why do you say that?” asked Yalim. And then her hand flew to her mouth in horror – a little girl like her wasn’t supposed to be talking to these men, and she was never supposed to interrupt the ritual. Oh, her papa would be so angry! And some of the men did look angry.
But the sad-eyed Rabbi merely said,  “I am teaching something new,” and looked kindly at her, waiting to see how she would respond.
Hesitantly, Yalim said, “But the Passover isn’t new – it’s an old story.”
“Yes,” said the Rabbi, “the Passover and the Exodus tell the story of how God loved his people so much that he brought them out of slavery. But now God is using me to teach people how to love each other enough to be transformed for them, to sacrifice for them.”
“Oh,” said Yalim, “but that sounds very hard to do.”
“I’ll tell you a secret,” the Rabbi said, his eyes growing gentle, “It’s not really a sacrifice if you love people so much that you want to do it.”
The men all around Rabbi Jesus looked confused, like they weren’t sure about what he was saying. But Yalim just smiled. Her questions had been answered. She understood.