This season has not yet ended though mandates are changing. There are enough voices that is saying it’s over even when another wave lurks. Here in Germany, it’s already here and it’s so hard to know what will come.
There is a war being fought a few thousand miles from where I sit which makes it harder to feel like life should be anything close to normal. So many of us feel powerless in times like this. We feel like we should do something and we do the small things that we can do. We donate. We pray but our hands feel restless with worry.
We want to do something tangible like washing feet or baking bread. These are things we can do with our hands. These are things to release that energy and refocus our hope.
Maundy Thursday reminds us that we can do great things with love and I wanted to imagine something that would allow us to seize that bold hope in our hands, especially when we feel like we can and should be doing so much more.
That’s how this simple service begins. It invites us from all our scattered thoughts to plant our feet outside and dare to believe that this is where we need to be. In this Coronatide, it is a service for worship outside the sanctuary.
It will require being outside of any building because you’ll be lighting a fire and baking flatbreads over an open flame.
A fire pit would work perfectly with this ideally with a grate like this one. Note the diameter of your fire pit when purchasing or it won’t be secure or safe. If the pandemic never led you to grill over your fire pit like it did for me, here are some pointers that might help.
Worship is tied together through a selection of simple, singable songs many of which come from the wonderful resources of Music that Makes Community. Hands will need to be free of a bulletin or any paper because each person will have the opportunity to take and knead their own bread and then cook it over the fire. You will find your own safety precautions in this which might mean only one person operates the grill. If so, there will be even more opportunity for the congregation to sing familiar songs about love and bread. There are lots of suggestions offered in this short service but there are certainly many more songs that might be sung and more familiar to your good people.
There are some other options that could be in this worship experience. I imagine that making and sharing bread will automatically lead to some kind of very informal Passing of the Peace. I considered offering a reflection question as I did for the options in sharing the very long reading in the Gospel of John that frames this experience. I left it out in the end because it seemed like too much if the Gospel telling involves some drama or heart-seeking.
There are a ton of possibilities here for this service that welcomes all ages and there is even a recipe for flatbread included. I was one of those people that started baking bread in the beginning of this pandemic and this is a recipe that I’ve played with a whole bunch — and it’s also delicious as is everything that comes from Smitten Kitchen. It will require some kind soul to make the dough ahead of time and estimate the number of people that will be served. The recipe itself services eight six-inch flatbreads. I feel like a bigger portion is required here and so you will need to increase the yield or adjust portion size in the worship setting.
I have had very little success with baking without gluten and this is obviously a problem in providing an open table for vegans and those with celiac disease. I think that this gluten-free flatbread recipe could also work. I welcome other recipe suggestions in the comments for a more inclusive table.
This was a delight to create and I pray it’s a joy to experience together in community where hands are held and lifted in prayer. It could be risky but I pray it’s the best kind of risk there is. If you’re ready to take the risk, please order here.