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Communion Meditations (2014)

Dovecote

Originally scheduled for June 29

One of the ways that farmers in the 19th century supplemented their diets was to keep a dovecote.  It’s a fairly large box, usually on a pole, which allowed several families of doves or pigeons to nest.  It also included a rear access door for the farmer.  As the eggs hatched, the farmer would reach in through the back door and tie a string to the leg of each hatchling.  When they were large enough to fly, they were still tethered to the dovecote.  Large enough to fly also meant large enough to eat.

The method is apparently a very ancient one, for we find in the 5th chapter of Leviticus the rules for bringing a sin offering.

·         If you were rich, your offering was proportional to your wealth.  You were to provide a lamb from your flocks.

·         The middle class – no flock, but land enough to support a dovecote – were to bring two doves.

·         The poor – no dovecote, I suppose – were to bring a tenth of an ephah of flour.

(Don’t ask me what an ephah might be. One of my references cleared things up this way: “Twelve logs to one hin; six hins to one bath. One cab and four-fifths to one omer. Three omers and one third, one seah. Three seahs to one ephah. Ten ephahs to one homer.” Makes the metric system look simple, now doesn’t it?)

There is a divine principle at work here:  God always provides a way for each of us, no matter how rich or poor, to have atonement for our sins.  This, of course, implies that we all need such atonement for our sins.  God is no “respecter of persons.”  But please note that specific instructions were given for this; atonement is made effective through obedience.  You get it God’s way, not your way.

Of course, animal sacrifices were only a forerunner of the true Atonement:  Christ, the Lamb of God.  The reality of atonement was given at Calvary.  But it is still true that atonement is made effective through obedience.  So it is that we are commanded to examine ourselves in taking communion, so that we might recognize our sins and repent of them.  The body and blood of Christ are not to be taken lightheartedly, but in a worthy manner.  Examine yourselves, repent and thus let your obedience make his sacrifice effective for your atonement.

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