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Communion Meditations (2017)

Fruit of the Vine

Originally scheduled for April 9

Of all the things that church denominations argue about, communion is certainly one of the greatest. Take, for example, how the communion is to be served. Are we going to pass trays, and if so must the trays be handled by a deacon or an elder? Or perhaps were going to put up a little station in several places around the sanctuary and let people approach that way. But when you get there do you dunk the unleavened bread in the wine, or do you take a sip? Or perhaps your church is of the persuasion which has people come to the front and kneel at an altar rail there to be served communion? These methods by no means exhaust the possibilities. We also debate who can take communion with us. Some offer open communion to all Christians, others believe you have to be a member of that denomination, and still others believe you must be a member of that particular local church.

But perhaps the greatest debate of all concerns the subject of whether or not you serve grape juice or wine as the “fruit of the vine.” The grape juice folks will tell you that’s what the Bible requires, and besides which it prevents the drunks from smelling alcohol. The wine folks will tell you this is exactly what was used and has been in every Passover ever. The debate generally leaves the average member of the congregation well behind. What you will notice is that each and every one of these churches considers its fruit of the vine to be the one, only and authentic one.

Rather than step into this debate, I prefer to tell you a little story about one church that used neither. We had just moved into the new building which contained rooms for the preparation of communion. One of the doors was open when I walked by (a rare thing, they were instructed to keep them tightly closed) and I stepped in to take a look. I noticed that the liquid being poured into the little tiny cups looked a little funny for grape juice. Examining the bottle, I found that it was made of pear juice, apple juice and cranberry juice — that last to provide the necessary color. I would not have suspected it, but the lady making the preparations told me that her instructions were, “as long as it looks good” she was to use the cheapest available.

“As long as it looks good.” You can take that attitude right into communion. A somber look of spiritual prayer on your face at all the right moments will go a long way in this. If you are called to a time of self-examination, no one’s going to see what’s in your mind. As long as it looks good, who cares?

God cares. If you are going to partake of communion, do so honestly. It’s not a stage ritual, but something given by God’s command. If you going to partake, I suggest these things:

·         Examine yourself.

·         Confess.

·         Repent.

·         Rejoice, for you are forgiven.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Do it right.

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