As a latchkey kid I taught myself to cook during the afternoons I spent with my little brother after school. It started with scrambled eggs, pasta noodles and brownie mixes, and it eventually evolved into an art form. I am no good at drawing or music or dancing, so the refrigerator became my palate and the plate my canvas. I read cookbooks—not for recipes, but as inspiration for my kitchen improvisation. When I indulged fine restaurant cuisine, I picked apart tastes to identify the ingredients behind them. I would return to my kitchen and attempt to recreate the flavor combinations.
When I became a teenager, I began to host dinners—feasts—for my friends. Few things brought me as much joy as sharing fresh Seattle salmon, fruit-filled salads, and decadent desserts with them. My creative outlet was richer when it was shared with the ones I love.
Lent is often approached as a time of solemn reflection in remembrance of Christ’s suffering. And some people engage the season with such conviction about our obligation to reverent sacrifice that I feel guilty smiling around them during the forty days before Easter. But I when I look at the life of Jesus, particularly the Holy Thursday feast, I cannot help but question whether Jesus would have wanted us to celebrate the gospel with the rigid deprivation that so often defines the season of Lent. Perhaps my love for food colors my encounter with Maundy Thursday, but when I picture the Last Supper I have an image of one of the very things that makes me feel most joyful and alive: a great feast with friends! One of Jesus’ last days was spent engaging one of the great joys of the incarnation. So why do so many remember Jesus with only their sadness and gloom?
Now, surely, Christ cried, struggled, questioned, and suffered in those last days too. It wasn’t all flavors and friends. There is a time for those things in our lives and in our remembrance of Jesus’ time on earth. But, tonight, in remembrance of Jesus’ last days, I am going to dine on amazing food with the people I love most in this world. In memory of the Messiah, I am going to celebrate what I love most about this life. I will honor Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection by indulging the beauty of the life Jesus died for.
Let Good Friday be Good Friday. Tonight, it’s Holy Thursday.
Jessica Coblentz is a recent graduate of Santa Clara University where she studied Religious Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies. She currently lives in Los Angeles where she works in young adult and campus ministries. You can follow her online writing at http://www.jessicacoblentz.blogspot.com.