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Communion Meditations (2017)

Bach

1st Corinthians 10:31

Originally scheduled for December 3

Most of today’s young people have probably never heard the name Johann Sebastian Bach. He was a music composer about 350 years ago. Classical musicians rank him in the first tier of composers ever. Douglas Adams, the fellow who wrote The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy once said that Beethoven taught us how to be Beethoven; Mozart taught us how to be everybody else and Bach taught us how to be the universe.

Bach was a devout Lutheran, which showed in his selection of material. One thing which may strike you is curious was that every piece of music he ever wrote had the annotation at the bottom, “Sola Deo Gloria.”  It’s Latin for “to God alone be the glory.” He wanted everyone to know that he wrote this for the glory of God. The correct feeling seems to be that he got the credit, but God indeed gets the glory. You might think it strange that music could be written to the glory of God, but the principle is an old one. St. Paul taught it this way:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

(1 Corinthians 10:31)

We have an apostle’s word for it: whatever you do, it can be done for the glory of God. So we might ask how we bring glory to God in Communion. One author said that the glory which is to be given to God is a compound of four things: dignity, honor, praise and worship. The worship portion of this is fairly obvious; we do it in a worship service. Dignity, one would hope, would be a strong point of communion. While reverence has greatly declined in our time, it’s still a little bit difficult to imagine hip-hop dancers cavorting about carrying communion trays.

The two most prominent portions of the glory of God in communion our praise and honor. Praise concerns itself with things someone has done. We praise Christ in communion for the sacrifice he made on the cross. By that sacrifice, we have God’s grace and forgiveness, justification in his sight and eternal life. That is a mouthful for praise. Honor consists in noting the character of the person you are honoring. Many have sacrifice themselves for various noble causes, including a large number of Christian martyrs. Christ is the only one who has ever come back from the grave. This is because he is both God and man, and was resurrected bodily by the Holy Spirit. This is why Christ deserves the glory in communion.

So what should we do about this? As you partake this morning, do so with dignity. Don’t treat it as something routine, or is something to be hurried through to get on with the rest of the service. As you do, remember Christ’s sacrifice in your mind. Let this be a spur to you to spread that as you leave; the world needs to hear of this. Then, let everyone know that you do this in honor of Christ. He alone is worthy to receive this kind of honor and praise, for he is the one who rose from the grave.

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