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Communion Meditations (2013)

Prayer of Manasseh

 

Originally scheduled for November 10

Most Protestants are unfamiliar with a section of Scripture entitled the Apocrypha. These works are recognized by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches as being useful in instruction, but are commonly ignored by Protestants. One such work is the Prayer of Manasseh, in which a King of Israel, in captivity, prays for his forgiveness and release. His prayer ends this way:

I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I acknowledge mine iniquities: wherefore, I humbly beseech thee, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me, and destroy me not with mine iniquities. Be not angry with me for ever, by reserving evil for me; neither condemn me to the lower parts of the earth. For thou art the God, even the God of them that repent; and in me thou wilt shew all thy goodness: for thou wilt save me, that am unworthy, according to thy great mercy. Therefore I will praise thee for ever all the days of my life: for all the powers of the heavens do praise thee, and thine is the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

(Prayer of Manasseh 1:12-15 Brenton)

 

Manasseh identifies God here as “the God of them that repent.” It is an encouraging thought. It means God does not separate out the repentant from those who need no repentance. As long as repentance is offered, God is still the God of the repentant. This, no doubt, comes from the fact that it is his will that all might be saved. The attitude is touchingly expressed in the parable of the Prodigal Son. When the boy came back, the Father ran to him. He is truly “the God of them that repent.”

Indeed, God the father is incredibly merciful to us. What does he ask from us in order that we might repent and be saved?

·         He asks that we confess our sins. He knows what we’ve done; he wants us to acknowledge it.

·         Then, to be explicit, he wants us to ask for forgiveness. He’s not asking us to present our sins and our excuses; rather our sins and asking forgiveness for them.

·         In so doing, we must acknowledge that we believe that he is God and is both capable and willing to forgive.

And after that, what should we do? Have you ever had the problem of repentance followed by I don’t know what to do? The answer is simple: praise. Praise him for being the God he is; the God of them repent.

Did you know that you do this in communion? In taking his body and blood, you acknowledge that his sacrifice on the cross was not just a meaningless gesture, but rather the source of your salvation. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin, the Scripture tells us. So when you take the body and blood, you are proclaiming that his sacrifice was necessary for you. He is your God; the God of them that repent.

Therefore, take this communion seriously. Examine yourself, and repent as you need. Then partake, acknowledging that his body and blood are given for you.

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