Part I. Holy Thursday: What We’re Missing
We support how online “gatherings,” including religious services, are attempting to ease the separations of physical distancing during this pandemic. We’ve led them and participated in them. But they inevitably–and by necessary design—miss the essence of how we gather.
Holy Thursday in many church traditions brings a service of foot-washing and/or Communion. At Farm Church we’ve gone down to the Ventura River to wash each other’s feet. Not this year.
It strikes me how many of our Jewish and Christian liturgical expressions involve physical touching and social gathering. Not least Pesach, which is in full flower right now. This idea that the “body” (a social metaphor) expresses itself in “bodies” (in their physicality) represents an essential characteristic of our tradition, one that we this year are “missing,” perhaps feeling its absence with somatic memory.
Perhaps not being able to “embody” our practices in this season will help us realize anew how corporeal and tactile they really are. This is good to remember afresh, because its truth cuts so hard against the grain of our ubiquitously docetic Christian habituary (and theologies)–which cause us to “miss” this essence (in the other meaning of that verb).
So in this season of “virtual” liturgies, let us nevertheless celebrate the centrality of touch and proximity in our faith!