This year once again we had a Jewish-style seder meal for the Passover and to remember Jesus’ Last Supper. I haven’t thought about this enough, but I find the tension between the two stories and how they relate to one another fascinating. That Jesus chose this moment when everyone was celebrating the POWER of God to show the humility of God.
I love this quote from Jean Vanier, “We admire and obey those who do great, brilliant things; we put them on a pedestal. But admiration is not love. Admirable people do not need us. Love implies proximity, mutuality. When people love, they need each other and are vulnerable to each other. With the incarnation, the all-powerful One becomes the little, powerless one. He needed his mother to feed him, love him, and be in communion with him. He needed the Samaritan woman and asked her for water. And we will discover that he needs each one of us. He wants to dwell in each of us as a friend. He is knocking at the door of our hearts, begging to enter and become our friend.”
I was organizing it this year, which meant I spent most of the day running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. I couldn’t have done it without a TON of help from Clara and her parents and Brother Kentigern. We cooked a four-course meal with Jewish-American food (salad, matzah, matzah ball soup, potato kugel, and almond lemon macaroons), and it was absolutely delicious.
The table was beautiful, with candles and white tablecloth, and we began in darkness as our oldest guest, and dear friend, Georgiana, lit a candelabra while the community sang: “Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured, Who is th’immortal Father, heavenly, blest, Holiest of Holies – Jesus Christ our Lord! Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest; The lights of evening round us shine; We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine! Worthy art thou at all times to be sung With undefiled tongue, Son of our God, giver of life, alone: Therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, they own.” (Phos Hilaron, John Keble)
We followed the Jewish seder pattern, except that instead of a ritual handwashing (to symbolize being clean to come before God), we had a footwashing to remember the Last Supper. I was really struck by this quotation about it that Jimmy shared with me, “The history of humankind has changed since God has knelt humbly at our feet, begging our love. We can accept or refuse. Jesus is chained to our freedom.” “It is always very moving for me when someone with disabilities washes my feet or when I see a person wash the feet of their mother or father. It is the world turned upside down.” -Jean Vanier My first footwashing was last year, and I was very embarassed (which is really unusual!) because I had been wearing sandals in the mud all day, and it took two people, one on each foot, to get my feet clean. But I suppose that’s the point. Our God is a god who doesn’t mind coming down, not just to our level, but below, to the parts of us we’d rather people not notice or deal with.
We also had the Eucharist after dinner. The laughter, fellowship, and love I saw around the table was so wonderful, and I hope that Jesus’ Last Supper was like that. It makes it that much more of a contrast to that night in the Garden of Gethsemane and the events following.
My prayer for the evening was about the Egyptians, who suffered from the plagues due to Pharaoh’s decisions, and for everyone who suffers from the unthinking or bad decisions of others.