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Communion Meditations (2015)

Symbol of Unity

Originally scheduled for February 22

The use of symbols and ritual in Christianity is, on the whole, rather limited. But in those instances where it is provided, the usefulness of symbol and ritual is very great. For example,

·         Those who are not particularly learned — indeed, those who are illiterate — can see and understand that which they cannot read.

·         Symbol and ritual by their very nature allow each of us to invoke our own personal experiences. We all agree on what a wedding ring means, though each of us brings our own experience of marriage to the understanding.

·         Those who disagree on the meaning of a ritual may still insist on unity in the church. If this happens, then the ritual may allow those who are in disagreement to be united in Christ.

We may examine that last point in a bit more detail. It is almost impossible for any large group of Christians, meeting together, to agree on every last little point of doctrine. But at some point the disagreement is of far less value than the unity of the church. Sometimes we need to present the truth in a way that it can be understood differently by different people without sacrificing the innermost meaning. For example,

·         There is endless disagreement over who, precisely. is forgiven and by what process. But all of us agree that the root of forgiveness is found in the body and blood of our Savior, sacrificed on the cross.

·         Perhaps the most prominent disagreement today concerns the return of Christ. There are three predominant theories, each of which can be broken down into hundreds, even thousands, of different understandings. But we celebrate communion “until He comes.” This, of course, implies that we all believe he will return.

·         To become more common disagreement, consider the question of what works of charity the church in a given location should perform. Money, people and other resources are limited; wisdom is required in making the choice. We all agreed that there is no greater love than that which was shown to us at the Cross. It is this love of which we are reminded when we take communion.

On the last night before he was crucified, Christ prayed “that they may be one.” The source of our unity and union is in Christ himself; it is to be shown in the way that we love one another. Why is this union so necessary? We are to proclaim the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. It’s hard to believe a bunch of people with a story like that who are constantly bickering over trivial matters. By Christ we proclaim union; we claim the power of the cross and we look forward to his return. As you partake remember that he wants us to be one. Take this communion in a worthy manner; if you know your brother has something against you, get it cleared up. One fruit of love is forgiveness; and we are to be known as disciples by our love for one another.

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