Zeph Daily 16 – The Last Supper

Morning Zephyrs! It’s Julie today – and also Maundy Thursday when we remember this story…

Have a watch…

 

I love the story of the Last Supper. Usually I tell it lots of times in the run-up to Easter, to school groups as part of our Re:wind events. I’ve missed it this year.

A while ago, I came across this quote I liked:
“We need to look hard at the stories we create and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that stories give us their wisdom.” (Marni Gillard)

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I think it’s an idea that also applies to stories we didn’t create but that we revisit because they mean something to us – though it’s not something we’re always very good at in Christian circles, just letting the story be enough. It’s like we think we already know it so well, we have to wrap it up in lots of other stuff to make sure we don’t get bored.

In retelling it over and over again, I feel like I’ve broken open the story of the Last Supper, worked it like clay, and the more time I spend with it, the more it reveals its wisdom – and the less I understand it! Often, the wisdom comes with a growing sense of mystery, one question leading to another.

 

Last year, I spent a day working with classes in East Morton Primary as part of their Easter Week. We spent time together diving into this story, finding its hidden spaces, asking it questions, wondering about the answers, talking about the different people and perspectives involved, and then rewriting it. It was one of my favourite working days I can remember; it was so good just to spend time with children whose curiosity made them open to working with the text, pulling it apart and putting it back together again.

We thought about the man carrying the water jar – why he was carrying the jar when usually women would do it, why he let them use his house, whether he attended the meal or not. We thought about Peter and Judas – how they both ultimately let Jesus down, how Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to repair things after his resurrection, and whether the same opportunity would have been available to Judas if he’d stuck around. We talked about why Jesus let Judas come to the meal when he knew what he was going to do – would Judas have known where to find Jesus later if he hadn’t been there? We looked at the different gospels and thought about why certain details were in all of them and some only appeared in one.

 

And in every class that I visited, like every time I tell this story, I was brought back to the same thing. What a confusing evening this must have been for Jesus’ disciples. This was a pivotal moment. At that meal, gathered together as friends in celebration of the Passover, things changed. Shadows gathered. Uncertainty loomed. Jesus broke bread, shared wine, told his friends he would die, that they would need to remember him.

In the midst of the Easter story, comes this moment when time hangs. Jesus’ friends know that what is coming next will be dark and difficult and hard. They know it will hurt. But they don’t really understand it; they don’t know exactly what will happen, or how, or how awful and gut-wrenchingly painful and frightening it will be.

 

When our emotions are turbulent; when we feel frightened or confused or anxious about what is to come; when we feel lost and untethered, like everything we know and depend on is slipping away. Remember – Jesus and his friends have been there before us.

Remember too that, when they didn’t know exactly what would happen or the force of grief that would hit them, nor did they know that the fear and uncertainty wouldn’t be where it ends. They couldn’t know that in the quiet filtering dawn three days later, death would be broken and perfect love would cast out fear. Sunday was coming…

 

At that Last Supper, in the midst of the turmoil and gathering dread, Jesus didn’t reject any of them. He looked Peter in the eyes and said, “You will deny me” – and he was welcome at the table anyway. He looked Judas in the eyes and said, “You will betray me” – but he was welcome at the table anyway. Jesus knows that, in times of turmoil, emotions can be overwhelming and hard to handle and people can get things wrong. But he welcomes us to the table anyway…

 

If you’ve got some handy, you might want to grab a piece of bread or a biscuit or something else to eat, and something to drink. Eat, drink, and remember…

 

Now give thanks that Jesus and his friends have been there before us; give thanks that he understands what we feel and where we are; give thanks that all are welcome at the table; and give thanks that, after the darkest night comes a dawn that will change everything.

When we are in a time of waiting, waiting for that dawn, it is easy to feel powerless. But we can choose where to fix our eyes in the waiting; there is power in that…

Watch…

 

Fix your eyes, and have good Thursdays, Zephyrs! Sunday is coming… Amen!

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