There we were, eight of us around the table. We came from different homes, different activities of the day. What we had in common was that we were all from the same church, around this table to observe Maundy Thursday. The table was modestly dressed with eight bowls, spoons, cups and napkins. A soup tureen, basket of sliced homemade breads and a pitcher of water. The centerpiece was a platter and goblet, which held a small loaf of bread and juice respectively. Each of the seven other tables was laid out like ours in our large fellowship hall. Yet, in this moment, the awareness of our one table of eight was quite intimate. After a prayer of blessing, the fellowship was as warm as the soup and as comforting as a slice of homemade bread. At the conclusion of the meal, three of the four children made their way to a classroom to play. The fourth made her way around the tables on all fours, crawling being her mode of mobility.
From our seats at the table, we were guided into a service of scripture and song, remembering the last week of Jesus’ life. We shared the bread and juice that had been specially prepared, served on hand-thrown pottery, sets of which were made for these holy occasions. During a time of extended silence, we were invited to foot washing. Others remained at the tables to reflect. As we reconvened at our tables, the pastor brought the service to a close.
Hearing a familiar voice. the little one quickly crawled to the feet of her father. “We will close,” the pastor/father said, “by singing ‘What Wondrous Love is This.'” The pastor/father bent down and pick up his child.
Isn’t that the way it is? We witness that in our heavenly Parent. God birthed a child into a world that was lost and destructive. The child grew to be a man, living a ministry of wondrous love for all. Jesus modeled an exemplary life of the shalom God wants for all humanity. And God lavish us with a love too wondrous to behold by resurrecting Jesus! Even death was defeated by this wondrous, divine love.
So it is with us. Whether we are dancing in praise and song, fellowshipping with friends around a meal or crawling on all fours in despair, God looks on us and says, “What wondrous love is this!” Then God reaches for us, a welcome into Shalom.