“My favorite place is sitting at the dinner table.” While this sounds like the set up for a self-deprecating joke, and I could certainly make plenty of those, I would still have to confess its truth. Yes, I love to eat, and good food and drink are the sources of much joy for me. But more importantly, around the dinner table is where I know that I connect most deeply with others. I suspect this isn’t unique to just me either. Time around the dinner table, whether for a special occasion or just because it’s Tuesday and we’re all here and need to be fed, are an opportunity to draw people even closer together.
It was certainly by design that Jesus equipped his friends (and all those who would follow) with a mealtime ritual to provide the kind spiritual nourishment required of those who grow hungry while taking up the challenges of this world. Luke’s gospel tells us that Jesus and his disciples shared in a Passover meal and I imagine everyone is still riding the high from their triumphal arrival into the Jerusalem. Who doesn’t like hanging out with culturally significant people? Who wouldn’t enjoy the perks that are offered to the famous? And now, though strangers in this city, a celebration supper is just made ready for them, in the private dining room, up the stairs in the back.
It’s in this moment that we step into the holiest of days. And it starts with friends gathered around the table, celebrating as has been the tradition, busy with conversation about what has transpired and what might be in store. Jesus knows, and the disciples (save one) have no real idea. Before the betrayal, before the denial, before the heartbreak, there is just this moment. A time to remember all that God has done and how God’s faithfulness to God’s people will always carry the last word.
And now, there is something else we’re called to remember. That love itself was made known as plainly as possible and it walked and talked and healed and cried and laughed with us. And to help us remember this embodied love, we eat some bread and we drink some wine. And what has been missing or has been exhausted or has escaped us altogether, whatever we need, is restored. This is how it begins.
On this day and in the days to come, gather together with your people (even if it’s still virtually), share yourselves with one another and be restored. Find your place at this table. This is exactly what God has in mind.
May peace come to you on this Maundy Thursday. -Pastor Peter
A prayer for this day…
Dear Jesus, as you broke bread with the disciples around the table, meet us now in this meal.
Nourish us to follow you, using our gifts to feed the hungry and tend the weary,
and all for your love’s sake. Amen.