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Communion Meditations (2017)

Curious Habit

Romans 4:17

Originally scheduled for July 16

It is a curious habit on the part of the Lord God Almighty: he says that things are when they clearly are not. It seems that this is somehow intrinsically related to his desire for us to have faith in him. He’s asking if we’re willing to believe something that does not appear to be immediately correct. It’s his fondness for “future facts” that sometimes puzzles us.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Remember Gideon? The angel comes up to him and says, “Hail, Mighty Warrior!” Gideon’s reply is rather lacking in confidence, something along the lines of if I’m a mighty warrior then why are we getting our rear ends kicked? You might also remember the ruler whose son was deathly ill. He approached Christ who simply dismissed him with the word that his son would be well. No handwaving, no fervent prayer, no anointing, just “go.” Perhaps the greatest example is that of Abraham, who was approaching 100 years of age when he was told that he would become the father of many nations. His wife laughed; Abraham was probably looking into his Medicare manual to see if it covered pregnancy. Yet in each of these cases God knew what he was talking about; he was finding out whether or not we believed it.

Perhaps you hadn’t noticed it, but one of those extreme examples is communion itself. You are told in explicit language that “this is my body” and “this is my blood.” What could he possibly mean by that?

·         If you are Roman Catholic, it means physical transubstantiation. This is not without its problems; at the Last Supper it would seem to be somewhat difficult to interpret that way. The Orthodox Catholic is told that transubstantiation happens just after it becomes impossible for him to see it.

·         Most Protestant communions take this in the symbolic sense — and are not quite sure what it means. The creator of all things said “this is my body” so you can’t just say he was kidding around. But the use of symbolism has declined so much now that we are often puzzled by just what he meant.

·         One way to look at it is this:  college students will remember that “you are what you eat” — which can be rather terrifying if you live in a dorm. But if your symbolic meal is Jesus Christ, it should at least imply that you are becoming like him.

·         This is extremely important because the time is coming when we will be like him in his resurrection. At his return the influence of his body and blood will be seen in our new bodies.

What should we do about it, then? First, remember that in taking communion you are proclaiming the Lord’s death. The body and blood he references were sacrificed for you. If you proclaim his death, you proclaim his resurrection. If you proclaim his resurrection you proclaim his return in glory — even so, Lord, come soon. Therefore, conform your self to the Holy Spirit’s conviction so that you might become more like Christ. You are what you eat — embrace that. Prepare yourself for his soon returning — and the Day of Judgment. Repent what needs to be repented, seek forgiveness from those who should forgive you and ask for strength to “go, and sin no more.”

 

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