>> May 24, 2010

Four times a year our church celebrates the Last Supper with a foot-washing ceremony and partaking of unleavened bread and grape juice. Every time we show up and I see that white cloth draped over the dishes, I stop in my tracks for a minute, suddenly feeling exposed at the core of my selfishness. I guess that's why a lot of people don't come to church when we're celebrating Communion.

I stand in that moment of vulnerability, wishing I'd done my repentin' before I got to church and had showed up with my heart bleached and starched with nothing to be remorseful of. What's amazing is how many times it's right after a fight with my husband or a fall to temptation. I want to run away. I don't measure up. I deserve a spanking, not to partake of this symbol of purity and selflessness. And every time, in that moment of shame, I remind myself that this is exactly what it was meant for. If that blood was shed for the chief of sinners, certainly it was shed for a disgruntled pastor's wife who never quite feels like she makes the cut.

And it's not just a reminder that forgiveness is always mine. It's a reminder that Jesus measured up, and I can stop bearing the shame of my own shortcomings. It's a reminder that He finished the fight and won the race and He holds out the victory cup as a free gift to me, the guy who straggled in last. It's all there, symbolized by that sip of red juice and that crumbly cracker. All that's left is for me to remember the lesson more often than four times a year. Four times a day might be about right....

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