By Rev. Charlsi Lewis Lee
The Maundy Thursday service is one of my favorite worship experiences. I love the intentional, deliberate focus on the table. I am ready for the somber, soulful, labored experience of humility that we hear in the foot washing passage. I wait for the dry bread to cross my lips and the sweet juice to reach my tongue as if I haven’t shared in that moment so many times before. And yet, it is always new to me.
I appreciate leaving a darkened sanctuary, curtained in black cloth, lit by flickering candles. I long for the moment of recognition when maybe—just maybe--the disciples catch a glimpse of the power and humility that will lie down on the cross and rise up on Easter morning. And, therein, lays the reason I long for Maundy Thursday: it is on that night that I am reminded that we are just like the disciples.
We see only a glimpse of the power and humility that is Jesus. We follow, we listen, we celebrate, we weep, we join in on the life that is Christianity; yet, somehow, in our humanity, we miss it. We witness the miracles of restoration and healing, we hear the transformative teachings and yet all we really want when we get to the table is to eat. We sit wide-eyed at the table expecting nothing more than a meal and drink when suddenly our lives change forever. We scramble to the table like little children to our favorite meal and we are greeted with life and death and life again.
Often we don’t know how to respond to the greeting. Some giggle because it is all too much to bear. Some weep because they know their lives will never be the same. Some slink away from the table ashamed because they don’t yet know they are forgiven. Some hear and respond and recognize. Some are in the middle and are still trying to figure it out.
Isn’t that just like the disciples? Sometimes we are moved to action, like many of our friends and family on Facebook over the last few days. We change our status, we rally, we support, we celebrate diversity and the freedom of the individual to love and marry whomever they choose regardless of sex. Sometimes, though, we are afraid to comment because we might be made an outcast, ridiculed, set apart from everyone else. Set apart.
Wait! That’s what happens when we approach the table, when we receive the bread and the cup we are set apart by God so that we can be set into community. When we taste the crust of the bread—my favorite part—and the sweetness cradled in the cup, then our status changes and we “get it” for a moment. We witness the power and humility of Jesus and we see the life to which we are called.
And then….we forget sometimes, for just a moment, when the driver in front of us cuts us off or the server spills a drink in our lap. We forget sometimes, for just a moment, when the person in front of us at the grocery store has 47 coupons and all we want to buy is a carton of milk. We forget, sometimes, when we’ve had really long day at work and our kids need supplies for a school project that they’ve known about for weeks and is due tomorrow. We forget.
And then….we are reminded by the rallying of friends and family, by the tears and laughter of a child, by the hope of those who have been shoved to the bottom as they climb their way to the top. We are reminded by the generosity of a neighbor who scrapes the ice of your window. We are reminded by the photos of men and women, women and women, men and men holding hands, embracing one another and calling “We, the People” to rise up and rejoice in the change.
We are reminded by the simple table and the stories of our faith that we are called to be changed. We will not always get it right, certainly the disciples don’t. We will slip and fall and we will get up and walk. We will not fully understand. But, we will always be invited to experience the meal and be changed by a simple of piece of bread and a drink from a cup.