by Reverends Janet and Phil Kettering
Through the gift of deep ecumenism birthed from our relationship with Rabbis Victor & Nadya and the Pardes Levavot Jewish Renewal Community, our lives of faith and understanding continue to be deepened and transformed. Resonating with Rabbi Nadya’s recognition of where the liturgical calendars of our three traditions meet: “at the center where Spirit resides and Faith is born,” we acknowledge and celebrate the threads that weave us together.
As Christians, our liturgical calendar carries us into Holy Week and the Three Days during which we embrace the saving power of Jesus’ passing from death into new life. Reflecting on Maundy Thursday, the first of the Three Days, signals a shift from the preceding 40 days of Lent. Lent; a time of “metanoia” (a humble, yet celebratory turning to God) through fasting, almsgiving, prayer, and recognition of God’s deepest desires for our lives.
On Maundy Thursday, we’re welcomed to our Lord’s Table of remembrance. This takes place as Rabbi Jesus shares the Seder meal with his disciples. Having previously foretold his death three times, Jesus intimates, at this table, that his death is now inevitable and all are invited to receive his Body and Blood through bread and wine. Today, in these elements, with the Word of God, under which is the Mystery of God, we find the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In the bread and the wine, we acknowledge the liberating love of God in the form of grace, not through our own works, but as pure gift of God.
In each of the Abrahamic traditions, we find the basic sustenance of life that is “food” is now, essentially and liturgically, tied to our recognition of the presence of God in our earthly lives. Food and Faith, there is no escaping that one is connected to the other.
On this night Jesus also teaches, through word and action, the way of being to which we’re called as people of faith to humility and loving service for the sake of God’s world. This is followed by a “mandatum”; the word from which Maundy itself is derived. After humbly kneeling to wash the feet of his disciples, Jesus gives a new commandment to love one another—as he has loved us, in the nature of a servant who sacrifices himself for the sake of the world so that the world might know God’s love.
As we meditated on this and the mystery of God’s unfailing love, the words of the Prophet Micah rang through in another mandate, of sorts, that reverberates through each of our traditions: “He has told you, O Mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God,” [Micah 6:8]. This, to us, is our shared center, “where Spirit resides and Faith is born.”
Rev. Janet Kettering (she/her/hers) serves as Pastor at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Boulder, Colorado, in the Sacred Space shared with the Pardes Levavot Jewish Renewal Community.
Rev. Phil Kettering (he/him/his) serves as a Pastor in the Rocky Mountain Synod of the ELCA and is currently on disability leave due to Covid 19.
This year, Holy Week and the lead-up to Pesach coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This convergence is a unique opportunity for a “Spiritual Spring Cleaning.” Each day of this week, we offer you a brief teaching on this auspicious occasion.