Antarctica
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Communion Meditations (2013)

Antarctica

 

Originally scheduled for June 30

It is probably the most famous advertisement which never happened.  Ernest Shackleton, the famed British explorer of the Antarctic, is quoted as placing the following ad in the classified help-wanted section of some newspaper:

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success."

Whether he placed this ad or not, we do know that he got over 5,000 applications for something like 56 openings.  As of this writing, no one has been able to provide the name and date of the newspaper.  But apocryphal or not, he should have done it – it’s the only way to recruit those who are willing to risk the Antarctic.  In a similar way – see Matthew 10 – Christ sent out his disciples, telling them to pack nothing for the journey, but rely entirely on God’s provision. 

In the grandest sense, Christ too sought “honour and recognition” – and found it at the Cross.  As Paul put it,

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:5-11 NASB)

 

Imagine, if you can, the descent from being God with God to being a babe in the manger.  It is the “supreme miracle,” as C. S. Lewis put it.  Exploring the Antarctic is trivial in comparison.

He did this with a destination in mind:  the Cross.  God is love; he wants his children, the works of his hand, to be with him forever.  God is righteousness; sin cannot be in his presence.  The only possible solution to the divine dilemma is the atonement. That atonement required a pure and perfect sacrifice.

It is that sacrifice we honor in the practice of communion.  It keeps his glory before our eyes as we partake, and will do so until he returns.  It is fitting, therefore, that we take it in a solemn and worthy manner.  God does not take his glory lightly; nor should we.

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