Reflection: March 29– Maundy Thursday

Published on Mar 30th, 2018 by Rev. David Boyd | 0
I came across a Maundy Thursday reflection this week as I was preparing for this evening’s worship; I was looking for deep reflections on the meaning behind what we do on Maundy Thursday: the mandate to love; washing feet; and sharing in communion.  The piece that I encountered came from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.  It was produced by the Center for Christian Ethics and was a reflection on the teaching of communion that Paul offered in 1st Corinthians.
Robert B. Kruschwitz wrote this reflection as an adult study guide on the Eucharist, another name for Holy Communion.  He begins his study with these words about consumerism and how easy it is to lose our identity in our Western consumerist culture: “Consumerism can encourage the least attractive human traits—avarice, aggression, and self-centeredness. By giving us a new identity as members of God’s Body, the Eucharist can form us in fidelity, other-centeredness, and proper joy, which are countercultural to the ethos of consumer culture.”
Kruschwitz himself quotes another ethicist when he wrote, “Soon consumers ‘need to need and desire to desire.  Instead of consuming goods themselves, they consume the meanings of goods as those have been constructed through advertising and marketing’…  we buy ‘Harley-Davidson motorcycles to symbolize personal freedom, Nike shoes to suggest [we can be like Michael Jordan, a star basketball player of the past], and clothing from Abercrombie and Fitch to communicate chic casualness.’  We buy self-images…”  Terry O’Reilly continually exposes this on CBC radio with his program The Age of Persuasion.
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, warned Christians in those early days, in a verse just after our reading this evening, to “Examine yourselves… then eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”  Kruschwitz tells us that “we receive our true identities as children of God and we are prepared to resist the identities proffered by our consumerist culture.  As often as we eat the bread and drink from the cup, as Augustine reminds us, we receive the mystery of ourselves.”
We receive the mystery of ourselves.  That’s an interesting phrase. In receiving again and again the mystery of ourselves, or in other words, to be reminded of who we are and whose, we are strengthened in our faithfulness to live love, we deepen and further cultivate hospitality—which is connected to healing the other, and we are re-oriented again and again to true joy, not artificial satisfaction in owning a particular item.
This 3-fold aspect of communion is what we are about this evening.  It is an active resistance to consumerism and what it does to us, as well as a positive statement that we stand for an alternative value, and that is love.  Love is the basis for what we do in the Eucharist, which is also known as a love-feast.  We seek to be faithful as we break bread and pour the cup, and have our faith strengthened; we seek to be other-centred, symbolized in the washing of our feet; and we seek to rediscover again true joy, which is the joy of sharing in a special meal.
All of this is about love.  We take communion because, in the sharing of this bread and cup, we are transformed; the life of Christ is opened up through us to be agents of transformation in the world.  We experience healing and participate in the healing of the world.  We experience a renewed faithfulness and seek to call others to step away from meanings that harm and manipulate us or the environment.  And through this, we are led to joy, a deep-seeded sense of being part of something larger that holds us in wonderment and awe and that leads to gratitude.
So, take the bread and eat it, not as a memorial of what Jesus did at the Last Supper, but as a living expression of our faith today to live love.  Drink from the cup of transformation and know that a new covenant of love is written on our hearts and calls us, as one community of hope, to dare to live the Jesus Way, the Way of transformative love.  Let us eat this bread and drink from these cups together as a declarative act that LOVE will overcome separation and meaninglessness!  Let us not seduced by fake news and false meanings that take away the power we have to seek justice, resist evil and proclaim Jesus crucified and risen, our hope.

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