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Communion Meditations (2015)

Long Tom

Originally scheduled for August 9

One of the happiest times of your author’s life came when he was a boy living on a military Proving Ground. It was a place where they tested tanks, artillery and other weapons. My father, a career soldier, was stationed there. Those who ran the proving ground were always delighted when someone came to see what they were doing and ready to show off some of their more interesting failures.

My grandfather, a machinist with an automobile company, went with us on one occasion. After looking at several smaller failures, we came upon a World War II “Long Tom” cannon.  Imagine, if you will, a 22 foot long banana peel, made of metal and twisted in all directions. My grandfather took a professional interest in this. He started by saying that the steel in the cannon must be defective. He took out his pocketknife and examined the steel with it in several places. Finally, he concluded that steel was perfectly good — and that whatever caused this must’ve produced one really large explosion.

My grandfather exhibited for us a professional interest in testing. He knew that without testing the steel you could not determine what it might do. Consider Paul’s admonition to do the same:


But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

(1 Corinthians 11:28 NASB)


The word in the Greek for “examine” is used to mean testing metal for its soundness and purity. Just as my grandfather sampled the steel with his pocketknife, we are to examine ourselves at communion. This carries some interesting implications.

·         We are to examine ourselves — not others. We may encourage, exhort or empathize with others; we are not their judges.

·         Indeed, we are to examine ourselves — and no further approval is required.

Ultimately, it is you who will face the Lord at Judgment Day. He will know in what manner you took communion. It is much better that you test yourself now than find yourself wanting on that day.

Well then, what should you expect when you examine yourself?

·         You should have a sense of sorrow for sin (your sins, not others). From this you should develop the will to repent of that sin and make such amends as are possible.

·         You should have love and respect for your Lord because of the sacrifice he made. This, incidentally, requires that you have faith.

·         Your heart should then turn to giving glory to God for what he has done for you.

We are not told that we must be a “worthy person” to take communion. That would require an impossible degree of perfection. Rather, we are told that we must partake in a “worthy manner.” We are sinners, but here we are called to do it right every time.


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