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Communion Meditations (2012)

Deaf

Originally scheduled for July 22

There are many translations of the Bible. Indeed, the Christian who goes to a local bookstore to buy a copy of the Bible is confronted with a large array of different versions. Some of these versions are based on the same translation, usually the New International, and others are completely different translations — with very different purposes. Some attempt to be a modern update of the great King James Version; others brag about their footnotes or even which famous preacher wrote the devotional commentaries that are included.

There are also some specialty versions. One of the most common of these is a Bible for someone who's English is not very good — for example, someone who is a recent immigrant to our country. There are others which are designed to be used by new Christians, or for those in a particular age group. We have a wide variety of these Bibles.

One of the most specialized of these versions is the Bible for the Deaf. It is not an adaptation, but an original translation specifically designed to be transmitted in sign language. Apparently, sign language has its limitations in transmitting what might be considered the ordinary text of the Bible. In a sense, it's a translation into a foreign language for most of us — a language made up of pictures.

It's not entirely a unique idea. There are several languages on the planet, quite common, which are ideographic – meaning they are made up of pictures rather than letters. Japanese is one such language, likewise Chinese and if you go back far enough, Egyptian hieroglyphics. Our road signs are also pictographic, which brings with it the advantage that people who don't speak English can still understand our "no parking" signs. If you will, everybody "gets the picture."

Communion is pictographic as well. The bread that we use is a picture of the body of Christ. It's a simple picture which makes it easy to understand in any language. The cup — wine in the time of the apostles — was selected because it is red, and therefore an excellent picture of the blood which he shed on the Cross.

Signs and languages have a purpose: to convey a message. Communion conveys a message too. It tells us that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ loved us so much that he died on a cruel cross so that we might be forgiven of our sins. This simple picture was given to us so that we might remember the greatest gift ever given to mankind.

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