On Maundy Thursday this year we gathered in three of our churches to share a traditional Jewish Passover Meal and recall how Jesus’ disciples met in an upper room in Jerusalem to share the Last Supper before his death on Good Friday. It was an occasion for joy as church members welcomed others from neighbouring churches and the chapels at Wistanswick and Hinstock, to share food and fellowship; something we appreciated even more after the restrictions of the last three years.
Reading through the Gospels, we find many accounts of Jesus meeting with people around a table. He was a guest at the home of Simon the Pharisee where a sinful woman anointed his feet with perfume and dried them with her hair. He stayed at the home of Mary and Martha and invited himself to tea with Zacchaeus, the tax collector. Much of his deeper teaching with his disciples was shared at the table during his last supper with them. Family is strengthened when we eat and talk together – taking time, listening and laughing. It is sad that our fast pace, ‘fast-food’ culture makes such family gatherings rarer and more precious. The month ahead gives us three bank holidays; a chance to slow our pace? I know that many villages are gathering on the Coronation weekend to eat together, and I pray these will be valuable opportunities to chat, laugh and share time, as well as food.
For Jesus, the other important time for listening and sharing with his disciples was ‘on the road’, walking from one village to the next. As they walked and talked, he shared many of the stories and wisdom they later wrote down…. stories like the Good Samaritan and the Sower and the seed. What he saw around him inspired and illustrated his stories. Sometimes they met people on the journey who needed his help. These conversations and encounters are woven into the Gospel accounts.
At the end of the month, between May 18th (Ascension Day) and May 28th (Pentecost), we will be carrying our Benefice Cross around our 6 villages and praying for and with our communities, often simply using ‘the Lord’s Prayer’. Each evening the cross will be walked on to the next village. Walkers will be welcomed with refreshments, and we will say ‘Night Prayer’ together. You are most welcome to join us and details will be on our website (www.theunitedbenefice.com).
I pray that you can take a simpler, slower May with opportunities to eat, walk and talk together. I pray you will be blessed in your encounters and enriched in ways you may never have imagined.