In the Lectionary

April 14, Maundy Thursday (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

In a pandemic, the practices associated with Maundy Thursday feel nearly transgressive.

The older members of the parish I serve have a long-standing practice of gathering monthly for lunch and fellowship. The meals are seasonal, sometimes simple, occasionally catered, and always critical to inspiring conversation and the sharing of life’s gifts and challenges.

When the pandemic became a more than lingering reality, those senior lunches moved, like so much of what we did, online. In our digital cubes, from our physical cubicles, we gathered to speak of the special difficulties of the moment. But something was off. As we munched on our home-assembled lunches, we were sharing, but the luster of intimacy had been dulled. It was not yet safe to gather some of our most vulnerable people in person, but we needed more from our experience together.

Intimacy through food was what we needed. When possible, we began cooking, portioning, and delivering a homemade meal to participating seniors and then sharing that lunch together online. And while not all the intimacy of gathering was reclaimed, something about sharing the same food opened us up to one another again. The sharing of common smells, tastes, and textures cements community in unique ways. Shared meals, even from a distance, have power. Their intimacy is undeniable.