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Communion Meditations (2015)

Jailbird

Originally scheduled for December 6

She is 62 years old. She lives in a room — well, really a cell — with seven other women. She is serving a 14 year sentence; given the incentives offered, she will probably serve another 11 years before being paroled. She will be 73 years old when she gets out, at the earliest.

You might well ask what she’s doing there. What particular crime puts a woman away at that age for that long? It seems that about nine months ago, in a drunken blackout rage, she took a butcher knife to her husband. This was made worse by the fact that this was a second offense. Her first conviction was for manslaughter which is, of course, a crime in which someone dies. The State of California takes a rather dim view of these things. California is not particularly noted for providing luxurious facilities for prisoners, male or female.

With that background, there are two facts which you might well find quite amazing.

·         Amazing fact number one: she is a Christian. She had wandered from the faith, but a few months ago a group of Christians visited her and hundreds of others in a county jail. She was restored to the faith and has been trying to live that faith ever since. In prison ministry, you see things like this quite often.

·         Amazing fact number two: her husband forgave her. It doesn’t affect her sentence, or her guilt. But it is a powerful testimony: if Jesus can forgive me, who then is it that I cannot forgive?

There is very little more that we know about her, and much that we could know. But you now have the essentials of the matter.

 

I can almost hear the voice of an elder’s wife from the church we use to attend. I mentioned a similar circumstance, and in a shocked tone of voice she told me, “no real Christian would ever go to prison.” Really? Do you remember a fellow by the name of Paul? A man who persecuted the real Christians, some of them persecuted to death. He was called by Christ and later on found himself in prison for the faith. He understood this quite well. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. It doesn’t matter who the “lost” might be; he died for all of us. As one Bible teacher once put it, “there is only one qualification you have to meet before you can become a Christian. You have to be a sinner first. And some of us (blows on fingernails, polishes them on shirt) are exceedingly well qualified.”

Perhaps that’s why the commandment to take the Lord’s Supper is given to all of us, not just those of us who are respectable. We are commanded to take it because we are all sinners, all of us in His church — and therefore it symbolizes our unity. We are commanded to take it because it shows that we have been given the grace of God, out of his great love for us. We commemorate his great love in his sacrifice on the Cross, for he died for all of us. So as you partake of communion this morning, remember what your Savior did. Look at the bread and see his body; look at the cup and see his blood. Examine yourself, and see if you need repentance — and someone’s forgiveness. Do this in the worthy manner commanded. You do not know if this is your last Communion; none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. If it is, should it not correctly reflect both your sinfulness and your gratitude?

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