Lent Reflection: 3/28/2013 Maundy Thursday

3/28/2013 Maggie Dunlap (C’14)
Jeremiah 20:7-11
1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:27-32
John 17:1-11(12-26)

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. -1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:27-32

!*#@...Oh, I mean, darn.

Last year, my Lenten discipline was a curse jar. 50 cents for every curse word or every time I took the Lord’s name in vain. After forty days of diligent vocabulary-checking, I had amassed a very conservative $50, which I then donated to a free clinic in my hometown. Some back-story: my dad, a Navy vet, literally curses like a sailor. My mom, a former English teacher and current word-lover, uses curse words for comic relief and rhetorical emphasis. Though I remember being chastised for using “bad words,” if a well-punctuated remark was funny, generally I was forgiven.

When I told people about my Lenten discipline, they alternately were shocked, or not surprised at all, which speaks to my ability to edit my vocabulary in certain situations. Nevertheless, the curse jar gave me the opportunity to cultivate a sense of self-awareness that I had neglected. Corinthians 11:28 tells us to “examine (ourselves) before eating the bread and drinking the cup.” In other words, we need to look inward and judge ourselves before we can whole-heartedly accept the Lord’s forgiveness. Otherwise, we simply imbibe “God’s judgment.”

Tonight we commemorate the Last Supper, Jesus’s final meal with his disciples where the first communion was performed. The liturgy for Maundy Thursday found in the Book of Common Prayer puts it this way: “Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord.” In the mystery of his sacrifice, Jesus gave us eternal life. We remember that sacrifice every time we take part in the breaking of bread and the sharing of wine. But this ritual can only come to its full meaning if we cultivate a sense of self-awareness that allows us to receive God’s forgiveness.

I’ll have another curse jar this year. Not because my swearing is any worse, and not because I didn’t learn my lesson a year ago, but because I realize that I must know myself before I can know God. This is not to say that you need to chastise yourself for every breach of faith or wrongful deed; little is accomplished by beating yourself up about the past. But to know your shortcomings, your talents, your successes and failures, acknowledging your right and your wrong, opens you up to the glory of God’s forgiveness, the ultimate affirmation of your place as one of God’s children.