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Communion 2010

Unlocking and Releasing

Originally scheduled for August 29

It is a time honored practice. No matter what his catalog of crime, the felon in our prisons is not really released. He is unlocked. The guard unlocks the cell, the shackles, the doors – and puts the prisoner on a van to be taken to the bus station. There he is given a voucher for travel to his home town – and the phone number of his parole agent. One has to ask: is this really a good way to help a sinner maintain his repentance? The answer comes back: the “memory of his punishment will do that.” Somehow, it doesn’t seem to work as advertized.

How different it is for the children of Christ! The price of our sins was not paid by our imprisonment but his pain and suffering at the Cross. We are not cast off and cast out; we are welcomed into the church, the family of God. Nor are we left to find our own way; we are strengthened by those around us and guided by God’s Word.

But the prison system has taught us one thing: “the memory of his punishment.” We need to be reminded of what it cost the sinless Son of God to provide for us. We didn’t suffer; He did. Often enough that keeps the suffering from our mind. So God has provided a memorial to that punishment. One reason we take Communion is so that we will remember the pain and suffering of our Lord – pain and suffering which we rightly deserve. By his stripes we are healed; by his sacrifice we are saved from Hell.

It goes beyond that. The prisoner often sees his life as needing no change – other than being smarter next time, so as to not get caught. The Christian sees a life that needs to change – to become more like Christ. As we do this, we discover that fear gives way to love and joy.

Prisoners are unlocked. Saints are set free.

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