Monday, March 29, 2010

Super-sized Supper


Last week sometime reader Joe sent me a link to a BBC article about the Last Supper. It referred to a study of paintings through the ages, indicating that the depicted portion sizes of the supper have grown steadily over time. Our email banter about the article included my suggestion that we now call it the All-You-Can-Eat Mandarin Last Buffet. The day after Joe's alert similar articles were everywhere. Here is one example:

Over the last 1,000 years, the portions and plates depicted in 52 paintings of the last meal Jesus ate with his Apostles have grown bigger and bigger, finds a study to be published in the April issue of The International Journal of Obesity. From dishes to bread to entrees, it’s all been supersized, according to findings by marketing professor Brian Wansink of Cornell University and his brother, Craig Wansink, an ordained minister and professor of religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College.

Hm. At least this study reminds us that the Last Supper was a meal, a seder meal marking pesach, the Jewish Passover. When we gather on Maundy Thursday we will sit at a table with chunks of bread and several chalices. It will be our attempt to remember a meal which provided both spiritual and physical sustenance.

What is your reaction to this "super-sizing" revelation? Do you attend a Maundy Thursday service? Does it help that ours has an invitation to an actual table? Will you over-eat?

6 comments:

lionlamb said...

From reader Bill, as an email.

THE MAUNDY THURSDAY SERVICE IS IMPORTANT. IT TO ME IS A FURTHER LEAD UP TO THE EASTER CELRBRATION AND I DO BELIEVE EASTER IS A TIME TO CELEBRATE THE PRESENCE OF JESUS IN OUR LIVES.I THINK THE WHOLE PERIOD OF LENT PREPARES US FOR BOTH THE SADNESS AND THE CELEBRATION.

EASTER AND CHRISTMAS ARE MY TWO MOST IMPORTANT CELEBRATIONS OF THE YEAR. IN ADDITION TO THE RELIGIOUS IMPLICATIONS THEY ARE BOTH TIMES WHEN FAMILY GET TOGETHER AND WE CELEBRATE THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY.AS ONE GROWS OLDER WE APPRECIATE THESE TIMES MORE AND MORE

I THINK ST PAULS DOES A GEAT JOB IN PREPARING US FOR THESE CELEBRATIONS.I COMMEND ALL WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUTH INVOLVEMENT IN THE SERVICES . I AM SURE THEIR PARTICIPATION WILL HELP MOULD THEIR LIVES IN YEARS TO COME.IT ALSO SPEAKS WELL FOR THE CONGREGATION,WHICH SEEMS MORE THAN PLEASED WITH THE YOUTH LEADERSHIP.

Susan said...

The journal article is not yet available on line to read. But in reading your reflection David, I wonder if the Last Supper artists are depicting the abundance or lack of food in their own cultural context. Especially, in the Western world, in the last 100 years, food has become more abundant and portion sizes have been bigger.
I have found both the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services very meaningful. I am unable to attend a Maundy Thursday but plan to attend a Good Friday service. One of the more meaningful Maundy Thursday services has been a 'Seder' like potluck meal followed by communion - a reminder and review of Christianity's roots and accessible for all ages. I am not aware of any United Church in the area offering a 'Seder' style meal.

Laurie said...

I will not be attending Maundy Thursday service or a Good Friday service, I will be attending an "egg-pacing" event in the Lake District in England. No churches where I am are having anything other then a Sunday morning service on Easter.

Laura said...

I noticed the "Super-size Last Supper" article in the Globe last week, and although I paid little attention to it, it "bugged" me a bit. Seemed one more intrusion of commercialism into a sacred event.
The Maundy Thursday service at St Paul's has been quite meaningful to us. Changing up the way we take communion is good, I believe. The dinner table setting, that is similar to Jesus last meal with his disciples, proves for me to be quite a deep experience.
Over eating at the seder reminds me of our friend from Clarington Connection who found himself quite hungry one Maundy Thursday and could hardly wait for you to invite us to the table and he just may have respectfully over eaten.
"Where you are" sounds wonderful, Laurie.

Deborah Laforet said...

I miss Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in Bowmanville. In this small community in SK, the Maundy Thursday service is always celebrated at the Lutheran church, with an invitation to the rest of the churches. The service is pretty standard with communion as part of the service. Of course, because because of allergies, I cannot partake, so I am always hoping people understand why I am not taking communion in the Lutheran church.

As for Good Friday, it is always an ecumenical service, which is great, but I find my creativity a bit stifled and the theology is usually very conservative. It is one of two services though that we celebrate ecumenically in this community, so, for that reason, I don't complain (not too loudly anyway).

I do find it interesting to hear about the bigger portions portrayed at the Last Supper. Is this our growing awareness that the Last Supper was a meal or is it our growing waistlines that want to put more food on the table? Hmmmm.....

lionlamb said...

From what I can gather online "egg pacing" is egg rolling. Thanks Laurie for staying in touch from Great Britain. Yesterday I got an email from reader Karen who is on a group trip in Pennsylvania. She read yesterday's sermon to her co-travellers before I had preached it! The joys of posting messages early.

Thanks for all your observations and experiences about Maundy Thursday and other seasonal services.

You know you are welcome at St. Paul's Susan, and others I will see.

I too have been involved in the compromises of ecumenicism Deb. Sometimes they are worth it, sometimes not!