Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison (January 30, 1787), discussed the dangers of government and the balance of liberty and oppression. He warned against a government of wolves over sheep and famously said, “Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem,” which can be translated as, “I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.” Or as we hear it more often these days, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

Bureaucracies in all forms, shapes and sizes have one thing in common, they try and control variables. I don’t think it matters if you are speaking about the federal government or your local city council or, for that matter, your congregational governance, if there is a bureaucracy it has a set of parameters and objectives which give it purpose. They have a specific goal in mind for the organization and a big part of what they must do is control all the variables that might impinge upon that goal.

On that first Easter day the women went to the tomb and were greeted not by death but by life. They were directed not to weeping but called to not be afraid. After this, in Luke’s Gospel we find a radically different account of something that transpires and only he records it for us. It is something which happens not with the 11 disciples in the upper room but to two previously unknown, at least to us, disciples.

Why is this night different from all other nights? Traditionally, the youngest child at the dinner table would ask this question as part of the Passover meal. This meal brought to remembrance the great acts of God for His people Israel, delivering them from slavery in Egypt so long ago. Rightly called the Passover, because the angel of the Lord passed over the homes of God’s people which were marked with the blood of a lamb. They were saved from the final plague that brought death over the land. So every year after, God’s people celebrated, ate and drank, remembered their gift of salvation.

They said it was for our best interest. They said that it was how we demonstrated love for our neighbor, especially those weaker than us. Not to mention, it was the law of the land, it was what was expected, it ought to be obeyed for the general welfare of all. So with a particular American piety and sense of righteousness, the 18th Amendment banned the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors. It brought to this great country the long-forgotten era known as prohibition.