Friday, April 22, 2011

Passing Over

"The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you." - Exodus 12:13

Last week some friends and I had a Passover Sader together. I loved studying the Scripture and the modern day Jewish traditions in preparation for it, but as we went through the traditions together, I was reminded of so many things that Jesus said and did, and how this Sader is not only for Jewish people, but has great significance for us as people of the faith of Abraham and followers of Jesus - Hanifi Christians, as we are called by some. Here are some Scriptures that came to my mind that enriched the meaning of the Passover for me...

Preparation of the table

*Candles - "You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house." - Matthew 5:14-15

*Lenin - "'Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.' (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)" - Revelation 19:7-8

*Basin & Towel - "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." - John 13:3-5

Partaking in the feast

*Bitter herbs - "The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it." - Matthew 27:34

*Salt water - "Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!I will praise him again." - Psalm 42:5

*Roast lamb - "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'" - John 1:29
*Unleavened bread - "He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me." - Luke 22:19

Participating through declaration

*Scripture - "And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." - Deuteronomy 6:6-9

*Questions & Answers - "Remember, these instructions are a permanent law that you and your descendants must observe forever. When you enter the land the Lord has promised to give you, you will continue to observe this ceremony. Then your children will ask, 'What does this ceremony mean?' And you will reply, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. And though he struck the Egyptians, he spared our families.'" - Exodus 12:25-27

*Prayers of Blessing - "From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ." - John 1:16-17

*Song - "He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord." - Psalm 40:3

Pouring four cups

*Cup of Sanctification - "You can be sure that I have heard the groans of the people of Israel, who are now slaves to the Egyptians. And I am well aware of my covenant with them. Therefore, say to the people of Israel: 'I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt." - Exodus 6:5-7

*Cup of Plagues - "Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all." - Isaiah 53:4-6

*Cup of Redemption - "After supper he took another cup of wine and said, 'This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.'" - Luke 22:20

*Cup of Praise - "What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord’s name for saving me. I will keep my promises to the Lord in the presence of all his people." - Psalm 116:12-14

At the end of the feast and ceremony, the traditional benediction is for everyone to say, "Next year in Jerusalem!" in the hopes that the temple will be restored and God's chosen people will be together again. While we do hope this for the Jewish people, our hope as the "extended family" of God is inspired by what Jesus promised as he passed the cup of praise to his disciples: "Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom." - Matthew 26:29. Our hope is in being with Jesus in his Kingdom, drinking with him at the wedding feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19)! So because of this hope, my friends and I altered the traditional phrase to include all those who believe in Jesus as Lord and King, looking forward to the day when all our hope is realized: "Next year in the New Jerusalem!" Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Little Burma Tea Party

(Slightly more artistic version of Monday's post...)

“Oh lo num sah hee! Oh lo num sah hee!” I tap my fingers on my mug and sing unfamiliar words to an old familiar tune – one that my mother, grandmother, and many a Sunday school teacher sang to me in English: “I will rejoice for He has made me glad, glad glad!” I stir my spoon and sing a familiar song in an unfamiliar tongue, because that is how baby Moi San’s mother and grandmother sang it to him. I sing because it makes his angel face light up and his chubby hands clap for joy.

Today is baby Moi San’s first birthday, and we are having a tea party together.

“Oh, Kah Ni, you wan’ sahm tea?” the lovely Burmese woman asked me just a few moments ago. Here in my international home in Indiana, I am not Connie Lynn – I am Kah Ni Lin. Here in Little Burma, I am the blonde-haired Burmese, who is a much better English teacher than a Zo learner. But my Burmese families know I like their thick, rich tea.

When my Burmese friends serve me tea or food, they do not often sit with me. I’ve learned that it is a sign of respect for “Teacher Kah Ni.” So it has taken me a while to find relationship over a steaming cup.

Today I find it. My friend hands me a hot mug and I sit at our kitchen table, where little Moi San bounces in his highchair and gnaws on a spoon, which he soon throws to the floor. He is my companion, contained in a blue plastic seat.

“Happy birthday, little man!” I cheer and squeeze his hand, then iang the song in both languages. His mother, scooping sticky rice from a pot, makes little noises of approval and nods while saying to herself, “Good, Auntie Kah Ni…”

I stir my tea well for a long time. I’ve learned this is valuable, because Burmese tea is heavily laced with sweetened condensed milk, which stubbornly sticks to the bottom. I take a sip, mentally prepared for the sweetness so thick you can chew it.

I blow gently on my spoon to cool it off a bit, then hand it to Moi San, who eagerly shoves it in his mouth and sucks on it. He prefers the comfort of condensed milk to the marshmallows I offered him last night. He jabbers on a mile a minute in the rambling gurgles of toddlers, and I nod and sip my tea slowly, assuring him that I am hanging on his every word. At his age, we both know language isn’t so important as expression… and he has a lot of expression. He knows it’s his birthday – I can tell by the cheeky little grin he wears without shame. We take our time and savor the tea, the milk, the moment we have together, thankful that even though we cannot understand each others’ tongues, we understand each others’ hearts.

I lift my mug to sip again and realize it is empty. Moi San sees it too, and decides our party is over. He throws the second spoon on the floor and reaches his hand out to me. I lean in close and he pats my cheek then touches my lips, and I kiss his tiny fingers. It’s as though he says, “You honor me by sitting and drinking tea with me!” He smiles sweetly, so big that his eyes close and all five of his teeth show, and it warms my heart. And I am honored to be called “Auntie Kah Ni” to such a precious child.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A compilation of smiles

I have a couple important and inspired blog posts in my mind that I plan to write soon, but today was so grey and wet and cold that I feel the need to share some light-hearted moments from my week that made me smile, and hopefully will make you smile as well.

For one thing, my friend Thet Thet explained to me that my name, if it were "Burmesified" would be Ka Ni Lin, which means "Red, Sour Sunshine." I am so glad "Lin" is in my name, since that's the "sunshine" part. :) Also, Thet Thet had to write an essay for class about an activity that she is involved in outside of class, and she chose to write about Youth Night/Girls Night at International House! In the essay she said she was scared at first to come because her English is "no so good" but that everyone she met at I-House was always smiling, and that made her want to come.

And the marshmallows for Moi San? Well, he wasn't as big a fan as I thought he'd be, probably because he couldn't bite them with his newly-acquired teeth. I should have remembered from Lemony Snicket's series that babies as amazing as Sunny and Moi San prefer a nice carrot or block of wood to soft bunny-shaped mallows. Being a gentleman, though, he gave me one of his million-dollar smiles in thanks for the thought.

However, the treat was not a total waste. Jo Lien and Khi Pi LOVED them. I wish I'd been faster with my camera, because the moment Jo Lien popped the first one in his mouth, his eyes got huge and his whole face lit up with delight. Remember the look Violet had when she chewed the gum that tasted like blueberry pie in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"? That's Jo Lien. Anyway, it erupted into the giggling face you see here.

Finally, I got a very special bouquet of Easter Lilies the other day that are slowly unfurling on my desk by my window. The best thing is, if I keep my door closed all day while I'm out and about, when I come back the room smells SO sweet and wonderful! Which is a precious gift, since sometimes the smells of Little Burma are hard to endure. And every time I look at them I can't help but rejoice: "He is Risen indeed!" Now that is something to smile about! :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Birthday Boy!

Today at Little Burma is our dear Moi San's first birthday! And I am pretty sure he knew it too, judging by the cheeky, irresistable grin he wore all day. It's been quite a week for him already - he took his first independent steps the other day! He gets around pretty well, crawling up and down the stairs at record-breaking speeds. He's also amazingly strong, pulling himself up on my chair and on my lap! Oh, and he can open drawers and some doors now, too - and I found a lovely scribbled picture and crayon marks on my computer screen, along with a scattered set of my "really good crayons" (the ones that I'm slightly obsessively protective of) around my room the other day... a scene that had "Moi San!" written all over it. Note to self: it's time to start locking my door again when I'm out! Although, I felt strangely loved by my little artist.

I spent most of this morning in the kitchen, sipping hot Burmese tea, sitting next to Moi San's highchair. We played high-five and peek-a-boo, sang Burmese and English Sunday school songs (his favorite is: "He has made me glad! I will rejoice for He has made me gla-a-ad!), and he stuck my tea spoon in his mouth and sucked all the condensed milk off of it. We had quite a nice visit, and I never thought I'd enjoy tea time so much with a baby.

Hannah and I gave him a set of colorful, plastic, baby-sized spoons to play with... or eat with... and a soft, plush blue bunny to cuddle with. We gave them to Lian first, who passed them on to her son, saying, "Moi San, oh, Han-Na, Auntie Ka-Ni, for you!" Hehehe, oh how fun to be Auntie Ka-Ni! We also got some marshmallows for the boys to enjoy. We decided it might be a better option than a super-icinged cupcake. But we're going to introduce the sweet stickiness tomorrow... I'll let you know how it goes.  ;)

Tonight, please join Hannah and I in praying special blessings of Jesus over this precious little boy, that he will grow up to love the Lord and serve Him with his whole heart.