Good Friday Blog- Leslie O’ Callaghan

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Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me…While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Matthew 26:23, 26

As I write these words, our congregation just departed from the final Maundy Thursday worship service of the day.  A new experience for us this year was that of a hearty eucharist. At the point of the communion liturgy, we moved into another space that had been set with tables spread with oil, jam, and hummus, fruit, wine and juice and an altar laden with baskets of bread. We spent a good twenty minutes sitting together talking about what it is to be the body of Christ after receiving the body and blood together in that space. The food fed us, body and soul, together! I watched strangers meet each other, visitors find new community, and others relax into a bit of celebration as a piece of liturgy took on an embodied life for a while. As we made our way back in for the stripping of the altar, someone whispered, “Can’t we do this every week?!”

As queer leaders in the church, betrayal can be an all too familiar part of our story. The stories that fill our worship spaces on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday can be both reminders of those hurts and soothing balms of Jesus’ love that tucks in around those precious, vulnerable hearts and says, “O beloveds, I AM the one who was with you in the beginning, and I will be with you to the end of the age.” Jesus knew the betrayer was at the table, and bread was still put in their hands. Jesus loved the ones who would flee, deny, look away, and doubt. The love never stops as the whip falls or the thorns press in on his tender brow. Good Friday is good because out of immeasurable hurt, sacrifice, and suffering comes the grace of God pooled at the very foot of the cross.
As I ponder the joy of watching my congregation eat with each other during communion, I wonder what would happen if that were our weekly practice. What if we looked each other in the eye every time we gathered, and when we heard those words, “for you,” we also were looking at the one next to us? That meal might begin to take on a bit more of a corporate y’all! In Matthew 26, all the hard conversations, as well as the words of institution take place “while they were eating.” When we sit down to eat with each other, we have the opportunity to dig into the tough questions, to talk with the ones we might very well hurt or who might hurt us but whom we are called to love as Christ loves. To the end of the age. 

Peace be with you, beloveds.
Rev. Leslie O’Callaghan (she/her) serves as lead pastor at Saint Andrew Lutheran Church in Wausau, Wisconsin. She and her spouse, Rev. Asher O’Callaghan love life with their pup Francis and 3 cats and getting to know the outdoors of Wisconsin.

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