For 19 years, I have lived the reality of hopelessness. I root for the Pittsburgh Pirates. As a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, Opening Day brings about a fresh slate, a new hope, a “maybe this is the year” mentality that is typically crushed by the middle of April, giving birth to another season of hopelessness.
Today is that day. Today is that day, when Pirates Fans get to dream. If things break perfectly, we might just defeat the Philadelphia Phillies – that juggernaut from the “other” side of Pennsylvania. The Phillies know that “win or bust mentality” for which Pirates fans dream. Instead, we cling to the hope of what has not yet occurred. We cling to the hope that might be written into a blank slate of a season. We cling to the hope of an October that matters. Heck, we cling to the hope of an August that matters. Until tomorrow, what has yet to happen can be as spectacular as we want it to be – in our minds – because today is opening day, and today is a day of hope!
Today, we also celebrate another opening day. We celebrate, Maundy Thursday, the night that Jesus Christ sat down with His disciples to inaugurate what has become known as the Lord’s Supper. It was opening night of the most important weekend in the history of the world. It was a night that foreshadowed the events that would take place in less than 24 hours, as Jesus broke the bread that symbolized the breaking of His body and He poured out the wine that symbolized the pouring of His blood. It was an opening night for a weekend that at first gave birth to hopelessness, but unlike the opening night of baseball season, the slate was never blank. While everyone around Jesus wondered at how it might end, and the weekend’s events offered more drama than a game 7 of a World Series, the hope secured and promised in that opening night was a hope secured before the World was ever made.
Long before that opening night, God designed a plan to give hope to a world mired, not in 19-years of losing, but mired instead in millennia of death, decay, division, and defeat. The world was – in a word – Hopeless. Enter – Jesus – God’s perfect plan to snatch His world out of the bonds of hopelessness and secure a hope foreshadowed on that opening night around a dinner table and ultimately fortified in the victory of an empty tomb.
As we re-enact that opening night together with the church throughout the world, we actually know how the season ends. We know that there is more than just an October that matters. There is an eternity that is secure for all who trust in the One whose body and blood were shed in that “dark night at noon” – that day after opening night. We re-enact not only that opening night, but we participate in a tangible reminder of the hope we have that one day there will be a new “opening night” – that night when all disciples of Jesus from every generation, tribe, and tongue will sit down and celebrate the victory secured in that weekend that started it all – the weekend that began on that fateful opening night, when Jesus said, “Take and Eat, take and drink…remembering me!”