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Communion Meditations (2014)

First Footfall

Originally scheduled for January 5

“Whoever romanticized the first footfall on new fallen snow never had to make it at 5 AM on the morning after Christmas on his way to work.” — Bob O’Connell.

There is a certain reality to the day after Christmas. It marks the transition away from the holidays and back to the ordinary, workaday world. Of course, on your way out the door to work you have to step over toys, Christmas wrapping, assorted empty boxes and other paraphernalia. It reminds you that when you get home from work tonight there is still a lot of cleanup to be done. But December 26 announces to you that the routine has returned.

One of the difficulties with communion is that it, too, is routine. There are differences between the various denominations on how often communion is to be served, but it is a routine thing. Some churches serve it every day; some every week; some every month and a few serve it once a year. But please note this: we do it the same way every time. It is routine. To the best of my knowledge no one has ever tried to liven it up with flamenco dancers.

Perhaps more to the point, we think that doing it in a routine way is important — and it is.. If there is a right way to do something it makes no sense to try a wrong way just for the variety of things. We think we have the right ceremony, and we use it. Have you ever asked yourself why?

Perhaps the answer is found in the fact that men need not so much to be taught as reminded. Think of it this way: when you were teaching your young children good manners, did it involve a lot of repetition? Of course; it took you years to inculcate your children good manners. You reminded them over and over again how they should behave.

Communion is repeated over and over again to remind you. Its purpose is to proclaim the death of Christ, and the salvation which resulted from it. It is there to remind you, every time you take it, of these things:

·         The sacrifice which Christ made for you; the agony of the cross. We often value things by the price which was paid for them, and this was the greatest price possible.

·         The salvation which that sacrifice brought. We are sinners; there must be an atonement for sin — and there is only one atonement that works.

·         It also reminds us of his motive for doing it: his great love for the world. It is the very nature of God that he is love, and this is the greatest reminder of that love.

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