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Communion Meditations (2015)

Shrinking Spell

Originally scheduled for March 8

In 2010 the nation of Haiti suffered a severe earthquake. Like many other countries, Canada sent assistance; in this instance in the form of a military detachment to help keep order and prevent looting. One Canadian soldier had the interesting experience of being called upon to be a part time witch doctor. A woman approached him and, on her knees, begged him to lift a spell which had been placed on her and her family. The spell, it seems, condemned her and her family to steadily shrink in size until they were about 4 inches high. At that time, they would be so small that people would simply step on them without noticing them. So she begged the soldier to please lift the curse.

This is not something they train you for in basic training. But the Canadian corporal rose to the occasion. He took out a package of instant coffee from a pouch in his belt, opened it, and poured half of it onto the ground. He then proceeded to sing the Notre Dame fight song in the manner of a Gregorian chant. At the end of the chant he poured the rest of the coffee onto the ground, stomped on it several times, and pronounced that the curse had been lifted. The woman offered him her profuse thanks — and the corporal had a story to tell his friends for the rest of his life.

Of course, to modern eyes this looks a little silly. But, if you please, let’s look at the woman’s needs, and how she was to recognize the correct lifting of the spell.

·         First, words were not sufficient. She needed something tangible to see; instant coffee is tangible.

·         She also needed an air of solemnity. This was serious business for her; no clowning around would convince her that the curse had been lifted.

·         Not just anyone could lift the curse — it had to be someone with authority. The soldier’s uniform gives every appearance of authority.

This gives us some idea of why communion was designed the way it was. We have something tangible: bread and wine. We need to see something. We also have an air of solemnity about communion. But most of all we have authority behind it. For the Christ who announced that he had all authority in heaven and on earth gave us this ceremony so that we might remember him and know that grace has been brought to us.

There is one more aspect from which we can learn from this woman’s behavior. She was truly grateful for what the soldier had done. Let me ask you: do you walk away from Communion with an air of gratitude for the grace your Lord has provided you? Or is it just another chore that has to be done before you can leave the church? If he reminds you of his blood and body, given for the remission of your sins, shouldn’t this stir the memory of grace and the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead? As you partake, think on what he has done for you and the gratitude you should have for it.

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