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Communion Meditations (2015)

Holy Vine

Originally scheduled for July 12

One of the difficulties of being a teacher is this: you generally see only the books that are written in your own time. If somebody thought of something 100 years ago, you don’t know it. You can see why fairly easily. Publishers are in no hurry to take a book that is out of copyright and make copies of it for you; there is very little profit in that. The words used may indeed be a different form of your language. In English, older word forms are more stilted and more formal than modern English. Still, it is worth the effort to see what someone else thought.

One of those ancient writings is something called The Didache. It purports to be the teaching of the 12 apostles, though it is clearly written sometime after them. They see the cup and the bread somewhat differently than we do.

They refer to the cup as “the holy vine of David.” This brings up some interesting thoughts:

·         It connects the Lord’s Supper with ancient prophecy. David was promised that there would always be a man to rule on his throne, and that one of these would be the Messiah, the one through whom all the world would be blessed.

·         More than that, it connects to the concept of rule over the royal house. In a sense, then, we are the rulers over the church. The Scripture clearly tells us that if we live with him we shall reign with him.

·         The phrase, “Son of David”, was one of Christ’s favorites. In looking it up, we find that in most instances it’s part of the phrase, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” The cup of Christ pours out upon his church the mercy of God.

The next refer to the bread as being, “scattered on the hills.” The phrasing is a little bit awkward, but the references are quite clear. To get bread, you need wheat. To get wheat, you need to sow the seed. When you sow that seed you throw it every which where on the hills.

But once you have finished sewing and then harvesting the wheat, you bring it back together again in a pile of grain and then grind it into flour. So you scattered it, and now you have brought it back together. The early church saw this as a model church being scattered all over the world. It will then bear grain, and when the time is ripe our Lord himself will return and gather it together again. In this we see the second coming of Christ.

One phrase appears continuously in the instructions to prayer for the Lord’s supper: “glory of God.” We are taught to praise God for the glory of his creation. Most particularly with regard to the Lord’s supper, we are to praise him for the sacrifice at Calvary by which he bought our salvation. But perhaps the most pertinent glory to God comes from our own conduct. We are to live so that those around us see what a Christian is like that that life is indeed given to the glory of God.

It’s a simple thing; just bread and wine. But wrapped up inside it are the ancient prophecies; royal rule both now and when he comes; his mercy to us; the reaching outward of the evangelists of the church; in the church we gathered at the second coming of our Lord. Sometimes even simple things can carry with them great and deep meaning. Does your life bring glory to God? If not, it is recommended to you that you should not partake before examining yourself and seeing if there is something in you that he wants removed.

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