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Communion Meditations (2017)

Wrong Woman

Originally scheduled for April 2

The story is a familiar one to us. We might look at it from a little bit different angle this morning, beginning with the Pharisee. He comes to this meeting with a certain set of preconceived ideas, particularly concerning what Jesus would know.

·         Jesus will know what kind of a woman this is — a prostitute. He could probably tell this from her clothing, and certainly the fact that she let her hair down in public was another indicator.

·         Jesus will know that she is a successful prostitute — she makes good money at it. That perfume is not cheap.

·         Jesus will condemn the sin of prostitution — which he does when he says “go and sin no more.”

The one expectation the Pharisee has the Jesus does not meet is that he expects him to condemn the woman like he does. If you condemn prostitution, don’t you therefore condemn the prostitutes? This presents Jesus with a small problem: how to convince Simon, the Pharisee, that Christ’s way is the right way?

Jesus chooses to use the art of parable to explain it. Parables are simple, and easy to understand; so much so that Simon is not quite sure this isn’t a trap. And it certainly convinces him that those who have been forgiven much will love much. But there is another lesson in here. We also understand that there is no one too sinful for God’s grace.

This leads us to a question for the church: is the repentant sinner welcome at God’s table? In thinking this through there are a few points we might want to consider:

·         Taking communion is, at least symbolically, taking sides in the great struggle of our world. By taking communion you say that you belong to God, not to the world and its pride.

·         Taking communion in an “unworthy manner” is something which the Scriptures solemnly warned us not to do.

·         There exists no scrutiny in the Scriptures for Communion other than this: “let a man examine himself.” I know of no Scripture which requires the church to be a gatekeeper for Communion.

Who knows? Unknown to others, you might just be that repentant sinner. It could happen to any of us; which makes it fortunate that all repentant sinners are welcome at God’s table.

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