Meeting Jesus at the Table: A Lenten Study

Amy Pagliarella reviews Cynthia M. Campbell and Christine Coy Fohr's latest book.

Cynthia M. Campbell and Christine Coy Fohr
Westminster John Knox Press, 152 pages | Published January 3, 2023

While the liturgical calendar remains the same, churches are expected to offer fresh insights each year. Meeting Jesus at the Table offers an approach to Lent that is both traditional and new. There’s a chapter for each week, reflections for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Easter, and questions for small group discussion. The authors offer new perspectives alongside drawings by Kevin Burns that illustrate the Bible story or make modern connections.

Pastors Cynthia M. Campbell and Christine Coy Fohr share familiar gospel stories of Jesus feasting with multitudes, “sinners,” religious leaders and friends. They touch lightly on the ways that Covid has changed our practices of gathering, and dive deeply into the ways food insecurity, personal losses, isolation and social injustices can make our tables incomplete. There’s a subtle diversity in their approach that is inclusive and welcome. For example, the authors refer to their own experiences of singleness and later-in-life marriage, and they discuss the “chosen family” of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus.

Meeting Jesus at the Table offers the complete package — it lends itself to a sermon series accompanied by weekly small groups. It invites congregations to experience the transformative power of shared meals and I imagine churches running with this theme, whether through weekly communion, potlucks, dinner church and hopefully with food outreach. And for those reading alone, there’s enough sustenance in the words and drawings to nourish the body and soul.

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