19 Mar Monthly Practice: An Easter Scripture Meal
Holy Week is marked by many practices that enable us to remember and have our lives shaped by its events, from fasting to foot washing and from the Stations of the Cross to meditation on Christ’s final words. As we come to the events of Easter this year, we want to invite you into a simple and profound practice that can reorient us to the story of Scripture and to the one whom that story proclaims.
Many of you will be aware that the Church’s celebration of Easter coincides with the Jewish Passover festival–Jesus’s last supper with his disciples was such a meal. Some of you may have marked Holy Week with a version of the Passover Seder, the feast that, with ritual food and wine, remembers Israel’s exodus out of Egypt. It’s a memorable way to remember God’s faithfulness—a community, gathered around the table, listening, sharing, having bodies nourished and hearts re-formed. And at the centre of the meal is the reading aloud of Scripture.
This year, we invite you to gather with others over a meal together to hear the whole story of Jesus’s passion: his road to Jerusalem and to his self-giving death. If you have a Seder meal already planned, that’s wonderful; otherwise, consider gathering folk for this simpler Scripture meal. Unlike the Seder, this is not a ritual meal. The emphasis, rather, is to linger together in an extended, unabridged passage of Scripture (rather than getting through in a series of small bites). As we linger in Scripture, we are freed up from the habit of pocketing God’s word for our present need; instead, through this immersion, we find our present life and concerns set within the larger, more adequate frame of Scripture.
With that in mind, here is our suggested practice:
As led by God, invite others to a meal. Whether it’s bring-a-dish or fully hosted, make it a delightful, hearty meal, like a roast lamb or a roast vegetable salad. You will need a simple entree to begin with–something like bread, olives, and olive oil. We’ll be lingering in the story of Jesus’s crucifixion and death, so a full-on dessert is not so suitable; you might like to conclude the meal with fruit, or other sweet bites. In sum, the meal should consist of an entree, a hearty main, and a simple, sweet something to end things, with water and wine or another suitable drink.
As you gather round the table, welcome folk and get someone to open with a simple prayer, thanking God for your time together and asking for God’s Spirit to open your hearts to the Scriptures. You could also sing grace. The table is set, but no food is served yet.
This Scripture meal is drawn from the gospel of Luke. There are three longer readings in all, so you’ll need three readers who are happy to read extended passages.
Read: Luke 19:28–21:38 (Jesus clears the temple and teaches in the temple).
Begin your meal
Having begun the story, you can begin to eat together, sharing the entree.
The second reading is Luke 22:1–46.
After the second reading, share your main meal together.
The third reading is Luke 22:47–23:56.
At the third reading, you may find conversation naturally follows. It is good here to close the formal part of the meal with prayer before the evening continues, and one of your party may feel happy to do this. Another suggestion is to close by praying together this Holy Week collect:
in you there is no darkness;
shed upon us through this night the light of your forgiveness,
your healing and your peace,
that when we wake from sleep
we may know once more the brightness of your presence;
through our Saviour Jesus Christ.
(A New Zealand Prayer Book)
(Image: “The Last Supper,” Leonardo Da Vinci, CC Zero)