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Communion Meditations (2013)

Jukebox

Originally scheduled for March 24

Many of the people in this audience are too young to remember — or even have encountered — a jukebox. It was an impressive looking device; often lit up in garish lights. It allowed you to press a couple of buttons, after you put your money in, and thus select a record to play. Records were discs made of vinyl on which sound was recorded. The mechanical motion of the record itself was something to behold. It was probably the closest thing we had at the time to a robot.

One particular version of the jukebox was designed to sit at the end of the table in, for example, a coffee shop. It didn’t hold as many records as the others did, but it was conveniently located and usually had a fair selection. In accordance with the long-standing rule that any device that makes noise must be set so loud as to annoy people at the near tables, this device was quite capable of playing your favorite song for the benefit of those anonymous people in the next 16 tables.

My parents, being civilized, absolutely forbade their children to spend any money on that jukebox at the table. Their reasoning was that the next 16 tables had no desire whatsoever to hear — repeatedly — “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”

The technology has changed, of course, but the principle remains the same: we will pay good money to hear what we want to hear. That doesn’t just apply to music; it applies to sermons as well. We like to hear what we like to hear. We want to hear it when we want to hear it — and particularly we don’t want to hear it when we don’t want to hear it. In terms of music, we have made great progress in this — headphones. In terms of preaching, perhaps not so much.

But preaching is not music. Communion is the great reminder that we approach God on his terms, not on ours. There are no buttons to push with God; he does not tell us what we want to hear but rather tells us what we need to hear. In a very real sense communion is a message we need to hear.

·         In communion we celebrate his sacrifice; we do not celebrate our desires.

·         Communion reminds us of just who is in control of this universe — who “calls the tune.”

·         And what tune does he call? It is his love call to us — the demonstration of the fact that he has such great love for each and every one of us, evidenced by his sacrifice on the cross.

Music has the power to bring forth emotions. God is so constructed communion that he wants to bring forth a reaction in you too. He wants you to remember the sacrifice that he made. On the basis of that sacrifice, he calls you to repent of your sins. If you confess them, he is faithful and just to restore you to fellowship with him. It is not a time for you to hand him your laundry list of things to fix; it is a time for him to reach out to you in love.

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