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Communion Meditations (2015)

De Profundis

Originally scheduled for February 15

In Psalm 130, which many scholars think was written during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews, we see the way in which the believer returns to God. Thus, it is a fitting picture of communion.

I call to you

There is a sweet and simple appeal in this Psalm. In the first two verses, the psalmist acknowledges the depths to which he has come. He appeals to no one but the Lord himself; the situation is so desperate that there is no one else who could help him. In so doing, the psalmist asks only that God hear — there is no rationalization or claim of being one of the good guys. There is no appeal of merit. Rather, it is the simple and direct plea of a man asking God Almighty for help.

Who could stand

in the third and fourth versus the psalmist shows us why that appealed to God alone is made. He acknowledges that not one of us has any standing before God on our own merit to make such an appeal. Indeed, he acknowledges, if God chooses to keep a record of our sins, not one of us would have any standing before him. But that implies that God has the choice of whether or not to mark our iniquities. It’s somewhat like a court case. The authorities must bring charges; the charges must refer to a known section of the law — and therefore they have the option to prosecute or not. God has the same option: when he does not prosecute us we call that forgiveness. The fact that forgiveness exists means there is a way past our iniquities to the help of the Father. But why would God do this? The psalmist tells us here that this is to create and enlarge the fear of the Lord (which is the beginning of wisdom.)

Patience

Curiously, the next two verses talk about patience. You might ask why. The psalmist understands that God isn’t going to jump through the hoops set up by man. He will bring forth his redemption in his time and by his way. That, it seems, would eliminate the possibility of hope — after all, if God’s going to do what he’s going to do and we have no influence, could we have any expectation of blessing? The answer is quite certainly that we can. As the psalmist tells us our hope is in his word. We are trusting the honesty of God; we believe he will do as he has said.

Communion is a ritual portrayal of these things. By partaking of the body and blood of Christ we acknowledge that it is not our merit. It is his table; it is his body; it is his blood. In approaching the communion table we ask forgiveness — and should be willing to grant it to one and all as He does. It is also our acknowledgment that we believe him when he says he will return to judge the living and the dead. And like the psalmist we wait anxiously for that day.

Spread the word

In the last two verses we see three virtues which we are to spread to the world:

·         There is God’s loving kindness, or mercy.

·         There is redemption from sin.

·         There is hope in his return.

All three of these are portrayed in communion. In the simplest of rituals is shown God’s most profound mercy and hope for us.

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