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Communion Meditations (2015)

Items on a Gravestone

Originally scheduled for May 31

It is one of the more curious sites I have ever seen. While attending a funeral I noticed two items sitting on the gravestone a few yards away. My eyes not believing what they saw, I went over to make sure that I was seeing things correctly. Two items rested upon the gravestone. The first item was a little plaster angel with a cute smile on his face. The second, almost unbelievably, was a miniature high heel shoe. The shoe was about 5 inches long with the heel of about 3 inches. It was nicely made, but obviously too small for anyone but the smallest child to wear. I found myself puzzled; who would place those two items on the gravestone which might have been for grandpa and grandma? I could find no logical explanation; there was no one around to ask. So I must leave the mystery with you.

Why do we put items on the gravestone like that? What makes us put — more commonly — things like a bouquet of flowers next to the gravestone? I submit there are at least three possible reasons.

·         It may simply be a desire to honor the people who are buried in the grave. It’s usually done by some family member, so it is very personal.

·         Sometimes it appears that we are somehow trying to express our thoughts to those who are deceased. It is a comfort to think that they can understand this, even if they cannot communicate with us.

·         Sometimes it is simply because we want to remember them, and using tangible items helps us do that.

These things may indeed be the natural way a human being handles a gravestone. Jesus, in establishing the Lord’s Supper, took advantage of this.

·         We are to do this “in remembrance of him.” Communion is an act of memory.

·         In so doing, we honor his sacrifice at the Cross, which was our atonement. The grace of God was poured out on Calvary, and that is worth all the honor we can give it.

·         Notice that in doing this he took advantage of tangible elements. He knows it’s easier to remember someone if you have something physical to remind you. Thus we have the cup and the bread.

Christ taught us that God is not the God of the dead, but the living. We are indeed surrounded with a “great cloud of witnesses” — those who have died in Christ. Christ’s resurrection is the first fruits in God’s new order of things. It is the evidence that establishes the fact that he will do as he has promised: the dead in Christ shall rise at the return of our Lord.

Communion is, in that way, the memorial of hope. As Paul put it,

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 KJV)

 

If we acknowledge his sacrifice on the cross, we acknowledge his resurrection. If we acknowledge his resurrection, we acknowledge the hope that Paul describes to us here — that all the dead in Christ shall rise. Remember these things as you commemorate his sacrifice.

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