I found myself less anxious this year about preparations for walking this Lenten journey with my family, which is unusual for the planner person in me. I didn’t want to be uptight about how to make it all happen for everyone, nor pushy about how it should settle in their hearts. I am realizing more and more, the older I get, that it’s God who works in my children “both to will and to work for His good pleasure,” as it says in Philippians. And ultimately, it is God who softens hearts, not mothers. I can do my job well by helping to plant seeds, and putting things where our eyes can see so our hearts will remember. Anything beyond that will be doused in prayer, and a good measure of trust.
My family are always gracious in the receiving of my efforts. They do indeed enjoy celebrating together, and I know they are truly thankful. But I’ve this terrible tendency to take control of how it all should be played out when we celebrate or remember. And, in the taking over, I show my stress (and disappointment) easily. This year, I desired it to be simpler. I didn’t want to feel all defeated that everyone wasn’t into it as much as I tend to get. And the truth of the matter is, I’m certain my family are actually into it in their own way, their own version, because we’re all wired so differently.
I happened across a lovely blog, Shower of Roses, where a Maundy Thursday feast was photographed over the years with her family of seven children. What struck a chord with me was the gentle, teachable simplicity of it all. I felt relief to see that her plate of unleavened bread wasn’t, in fact, unleavened. I promptly copied her and bought leavened Naan bread in place of making my own unleavened bread. One year she bought an already store-cooked roast chicken, another year she bought individual chicken pot pies to represent the verses when the “cock crows twice.” A jar of olives to represent the Mount of Olives. Fig Newton bars to represent the Garden of Gethsemane. This is something do-able!
So I thank Jessica over at Shower of Roses for this wonderful Maundy Thursday dinner idea, especially because it so aptly put something where our eyes could see so our hearts could remember. And I only needed a bit of a grocery list and hardly any preparation to make it happen! When there’s time to sit and read my own Lenten reading while I wait for dinner, that makes my heart glad! Because if my heart isn’t in the right place to begin with, how do I expect to be any kind of example for my dear ones?
To set this table I began with our little display from Palm Sunday: a lamb stuffed animal, and two 5 min. made (if that) palm trees (green paper wrapped around a disposable coffee cup and simply cut to bend down.)
Secondly, the “unleavened” bread (though in our case we cheated and used leavened Naan bread).
The costly oil– to dip our Naan bread in (we purchased Basil flavoured Olive Oil from Goodness Me.)
Chicken breasts that had already been cooked earlier in the week for Wayne’s lunch meals at work, were finished up by shredding and adding some spices to make Spicy Shredded Chicken for our dish to represent the cock crowing twice.
Our own mountain of olives represented after they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mt. of Olives.
Fig Newton bars for our Garden of Gethsemane where figs grow. I will have to look for a different item for next year as this was not a popular after dinner treat for any of mine.
Thirty pieces of silver paid out to Judas for betraying Jesus were represented with 30 rice crackers. The reference is actually Matthew 26 (not 25): 14-15…typo on my part.
Hershey Kisses were used to represent Judas’ kiss.
And Tic-tacs were used to represent Peter’s tears.
For dessert we served up sliced strawberries and fresh cream. The fresh cream represented the clouds of Heaven.
And with our fresh cream and strawberries, we added some Sleepy Time Tea to represent the sleepy apostles who had trouble watching and praying in the Garden (who we can not but help relate to in our human nature.)
It honestly couldn’t have been a simpler meal to prepare, with time to spare. I am grateful for the ideas shared on Jessica’s blog and encourage anyone interested to take a peek at her beautiful table (and fantastic photography.)
I have enjoyed our past years of Maundy Thursday celebrations together, however, I must admit this year’s table, for me, seemed to stick better visually. I don’t know how everyone else came away from our night, but for this mama, I am thinking it’s not only a calmer heart that changed for me, but a soaking in that hit my core. A quieter, simpler time together. I can’t help but think that in the settling and simplicity, in the personal quiet time I seemed to have on this day, I, myself, have been better able to see and therefore, remember.