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Communion Meditations (2012)

Sacrilege

Originally scheduled for June 17

Sacrilege:  the crime of violating or profaning sacred things (Webster’s Dictionary, 1828.)

The concept of sacrilege is one which has been often neglected in the evangelical churches. Indeed, many such churches make it a point to proclaim that there is no such thing as a sacred thing. Throughout the history of Christianity this has been a distinctly minority view. Sacrilege is directed irreverence.

·         It may be directed at a person. This is more common in churches which have priests and bishops, but it must be admitted that even the humblest of pastors bears a certain dignity which should be respected.

·         It may be directed at a place. Think of Christ driving out the moneychangers to understand his attitude towards sacrilege directed at the Temple. We may have lost the sense; graffiti on the walls of the church building seems to be well tolerated in some places.

·         It may be directed at a thing. Certain items are set aside for the use, exclusively, of the church. These things are sacred — that's what the word means, set aside. When these things are treated with irreverence that is sacrilege. If someone picks up a communion plate cover and uses it as a Frisbee that is sacrilege.

Most of us can see that such actions are sin.  But consider the communion bread and cup.  Christ himself declared, “This is my body.”  He deliberately set this apart – that is, made it sacred – and taking it in an irreverent manner is sacrilege.  More commonly, taking it without thought - just a ritual, just a routine – is also sacrilege.

How then are we to take it?  The Scripture tells us:  “Let a man examine himself.”  Take a good look at who you are.  Did you walk in with the idea that there is nothing in your life which needs self-examination?  In particular, is there no recurring sin in your life?  Maybe you haven’t been troubled with it lately.  Now is the time to keep it from coming back; examine yourself, and then seek the power and protection of Almighty God to keep that sin away. 

Some of us will see that incident during this last week which – to be honest with ourselves – we wish we could do over.  Is that something for which repentance is needed?  Now is the time to repent and ask forgiveness.  Make no mistake; forgiveness is available.  It’s called grace.  Communion reminds us that it is available to all who call Christ Lord.  Communion also reminds us the price paid for that grace.  The body and blood represented in Communion is a reminder of the body and blood of our Lord, given for us in his death on the Cross.  Examine yourself; then partake in a manner befitting a sinner saved by grace.

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