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Communion Meditations (2015)

Augusta

Originally scheduled for October 4

Ask any golfer if he has ever heard of Augusta, Georgia. You will soon find out that one of the premier golf clubs in the United States is the Augusta National Golf Club. Established in 1933, it is by golf standards not a particularly expensive club to get in — but it is extremely exclusive. It is a club which is highly driven by tradition, with an eye towards pageantry. There is no application form for entrance into the club. You must be invited by the club to join. Currently, there are around 300 members. As a practical matter of fact to gain entrance in the club somebody has to know you. More than that, you must be regarded as a success in this world. How exclusive is this club? The last president of the United States to be a member was Dwight Eisenhower. Barack Obama, a well-known golfer and president of the United States, seems to have been overlooked for membership.

In the same city of Augusta, Georgia you will find an institution named University Hospital. Interestingly enough, despite the name, it is not affiliated with any university. The name is a leftover from previous times. The hospital itself was established in 1818 and has gone through many changes since. It is probably the best hospital in that part of the world, repeatedly winning awards in a variety of specialties. Unlike the golf club, admission to the hospital seems to be a very non-exclusive event. All they seem to want to know is what’s wrong with your body? The fact that you are socially well-known or a rich, worldly success really doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it.

The church, in many ways, resembles both of these institutions. Like the golf club, the church is a highly traditional organization. For example, we have been celebrating communion in the same way (bread and cup) for almost 2 millennia. It’s not particularly expensive by charitable organization standards; indeed, depending upon your circumstances you may find it quite inexpensive indeed. And like the golf club, membership is by invitation only. Unlike the golf club, the invitation is open to anyone who is a sinner.

The church is also like the hospital. You have to be sick to get into the hospital; you have to be a sinner to get into the church. Who you are and who you know are essentially irrelevant. The one person you really do need to know is Jesus Christ. He’s the founder of the church and he designed it to do good for you.

The church precedes both the hospital and the golf club. It was established about A.D. 33 at a tremendous cost — the price tag was the body and blood of our Lord and Savior. This is what he asks you to remember at communion. Your particular congregation may be on the right side of the tracks or down in a ghetto; it does not matter. The value of the church is not a matter of social exclusiveness nor even the help that it tries to provide its members. The value of the church is in salvation by the grace of God through the blood of Christ. As you partake this morning, remember that you are in the church; the very body of Christ in the world. Take communion, in remembrance of the price Christ paid for you.

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