Friday, April 18, 2014

Ancient-Future Maundy Thursday

Our church has often done non-traditional services on Maundy Thursday.  Some years we've had a group of teens who take over; some years we've done something in a multimedia vein.

Last night, we went straight back to the roots of the Church.  We gathered for an evening meal.  We sat around one long table, to which we added two tables as more people showed up:  a cross shape!

When we began, I felt a bit fretful.  We had one pot of soup, a bag or two of dinner rolls, and two bowls of salad.  And people kept coming and coming.

It was supposed to be a potluck, but I'm guessing that many people shared my reasoning:  most people cook for 12, so if I don't bring anything, it won't matter.

Happily, a few people came late, and they came with more soup and salad.  As always, we had leftovers. 

My pastor and I had set up a simple art project.  We had 7 canvases and markers on several tables.  I asked people to write or draw the names of people, places, and things that they loved and will miss when they're no longer on Earth.  At first people seemed hesitant, but then, many of them got into the spirit of it.

We gathered around the table and ate our supper.  As supper drew to a close we did the Faith 5:  we heard the Maundy Thursday text, we talked about our highs and lows, we looked for ways the Bible reading tied into our highs and lows, we prayed, and then we blessed each other.

I rearranged the canvases into the shape of a cross, and the plan had been to paint a heart over the top of people's writing.  I had in mind an outline of a heart.  But I didn't count on the two elementary-aged girls who wanted to help.  I gave them the paint and the brushes and let them take over after I drew the outline of a heart.

They painted exuberantly.  Even as we dimmed the lights to have the Communion part of the evening, they kept painting.  I decided to let them, since their moms seemed OK with it.

Our pastor had made individual breads so that we could do intinction.  Each person communed the person beside them.  And then our pastor blessed us, and we were done.

The painters were done too.  Our pastor said, "It's what the Holy Spirit would look like if the Holy Spirit was made of red paint."  I felt a bit distressed by the tornado shape of the heart, but that metaphor for the Holy Spirit works too.

Everyone pitched in to clean up and to put the room back into its Fellowship Hall set up.  People seemed reluctant to leave.  It was a wonderful night, that ancient maundatum ("love each other") put into flesh.

I'd like to find a way to do it more often . . .

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