Originally scheduled for October 18
1 Corinthians 11:26 NIV
(26) For whenever you
eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death
until he comes.
States Navy, some years ago now, made a major change in the way in
which its ships were steered. It’s not something obvious to just any
passenger, but as you might imagine they take these things very
seriously in our Navy. The old-style consists of what are called
“rudder orders.” In this method, the helmsman is given orders
concerning what to do with the rudder. So if he was told to turn the
rudder port 30°, he would set the rudder at that position and the
ship would turn to the starboard (the rudder always points in the
opposite direction of the turn of the bow.) The degree of the turn
really did not determine the new course; only the rapidity with
which the ship was to turn. A small angle meant a gentle turn; a
larger one, a swifter one. Note that this did not tell the helmsman
just what direction he was going to wind up in. He needed a second
order to put the rudder amidships to set the ship on its new course.
method is quite a bit simpler. You tell the helmsman to bring the
ship to a particular course, or you tell him to change the course by
some number of degrees. With the advent of computers, power
assistance on rotors and the fact that we have only one sailing ship
left in our Navy, the new method seems to work better. As you can
imagine, however, it was quite a change in style for the sailors of
So why did
the Navy change? One reason is that the old-style did in fact
require two orders. That occupied more of the captains time, which
could be very precious in a combat situation. Also, it’s much easier
to check the results of the new method. If you happen to be heading
towards a specific target, you just look out over the bow of the
ship and see if the jack staff aligns with where you’re going. If
there’s no particular target, you can look at the compass. The
old-style focused on what you were doing with the ship. The new
style focuses on where you’re going. After all, the voyage is not a
success if you don’t arrive where you intended to go.
institution of communion marked a similar change for the people of
God. In the old-style — that is to say, the Old Testament — the
people look backward to their sins and attempted to make corrections
with the sacrifices they brought. They understood that this wasn’t
going to work forever, but it is what the Lord had commanded them to
do. They were going to continue to do it as long as those sacrifices
were needed. But in the new style, corrections by sacrifice have
ended. Christ is the sacrifice who has atoned for all of our sins.
The new style looks ahead.
The new style
looks ahead — to the coming of Christ. We are told frequently in the
New Testament that he will return to judge the living and the dead.
That’s where this ship is going. We should therefore take communion
with gratitude, looking back to the sacrifice of Christ. We should
also take it with anticipation, looking forward to his imminent
return. As the ancient church used to say it, “even so, Lord Jesus,
come.” Communion should remind us that we want our Lord Jesus to
return — and taking communion proclaims that he will return.