Mark 14:12-16 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
12) On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 13) So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14) and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15) He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16) So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
As one who grew up as an only child, I’m still amazed at watching my two boys grow up together. Like the stereotype, they are indeed each other‘s best friends and while they’re not worst enemies, each of them has most certainly developed the ability to turn brotherly annoyance into an art form. This is particularly true over meal times, especially on nights like last night when family comes into town and we squeeze closer together around the dinner table. There’s something about the physical proximity of being that close to each other that makes it impossible not to push and poke. Yet at the same time sitting that close together last night they had the most joyful time – sharing secret stories, playing with their food together, and singing songs from Ms. Susan’s music class. It was amazing to watch what could happen over a simple meal together when just 15 minutes before they couldn’t stand each other.
As we mark this day that for many of us is known as Maundy Thursday, the day commemorating the gathering of Jesus and his Disciples for the last supper, I wonder how the Disciples experienced that meal together. Paintings over the centuries too often bear witness to idyllic scenes of the Disciples in seemingly perfect harmony. However I doubt life for them was ever that simple, especially after they entered into Jerusalem into what would be Jesus’s last days before his betrayal, condemnation and death by crucifixion. Were the Disciples weary? Maybe. Where they concerned? Maybe. Where they afraid? Most certainly. Yet they came together nonetheless for a Passover meal. They broke bread together, drank wine and were in community with one another. Not because they were in agreement and harmony about everything. Not because they were on the grandest mountaintop of their journey. But because they came together in community for something and someone greater.
That’s the beauty I find that happens when we come together around a table – whether that be a communion table, the dinner table, the work table or even the ones in our classrooms. We come together not because we’re always in harmony or agreement and not because of our days have always been easy and celebratory. Instead we come together because by God’s very design we were created to be in community with one another. Being in real, authentic community with one another doesn’t always mean consensus, but it can mean that we seek places collaboration rather than conflict. It can mean that instead of being quick to assume and accuse that we reach across the table whether it be to new face or old and see the face of God in one another.
As we approach Good Friday and Easter Sunday, a time when we mark what it means to be resurrected people thanks to resurrected Christ, how do we live out that resurrection in community with one another? We may be close to the end of our Lenten journey this season, but were never at the end of our journey as God’s people – always called to come together at the table, across our diversities and differences, always called to love.
God of prophets and peacemakers, as we move towards the resurrection and renew our commitment to live our lives reborn, challenge us to continually come together around a common table – not because we always have everything in common with one another, but in fact because we don’t. Help us to live as a resurrection people – Amen.
-Rev. Angela Kaufman, Minister to the University