Originally scheduled for February 4
The title of this communion meditation may
disturb you. But please be assured we are not talking about the type
of Ouija board used in séances, with its air of black magic. No,
this Ouija board is found only on aircraft carriers. If you were to
look at one you would see a scale model of the flight deck and
hanger deck of the aircraft carrier. It’s about 6 feet long and 2 ½
feet wide, and covered with color-coded templates of aircraft, also
to scale. The handlers of the aircraft carrier use this device to
plan where they’re going to put the next airplane coming aboard, how
things are to be moved about and where is there room in the hangar
to stick the next one. The system has been around since World War II
and has changed very little in that time except to reflect the
introduction of the angled flight deck. It takes several people to
operate the system, as things happen fast on aircraft carrier. But
even so, the device is a model of simplicity which does what it is
supposed to do quite well.
The urge to fix that which is not broken is a
very strong one in human beings. This is particularly true among
human beings who program computers; they are always of the opinion
that they could do a better job than any other system. And so it is
that for the last 17 years at least there have been several attempts
to replace the Ouija board with a computerized system. Each of them
has reached the fleet and been rejected as not being of sufficient
advantage to replace the Ouija board. But we keep on trying.
Why is it that these attempts to replace the
Ouija board have failed? Consider the characteristics of this
The Ouija board is a very cheap
system. You can make one out of cardboard, though most of them now
are clear plastic.
The thing works. It does everything
it is expected to do in a manner so simple that even a beginner can
It’s also very resistant to battle
damage. One of the first things that happens in combat is that
electrical systems fail; the power goes out, in other words. With
this system you pick up a flashlight and continue.
The same kind of reasoning explains why we
have Communion in much the same form that the early church did.
It is a cheap system. There is no
requirement to have gold communion cups or silver serving trays.
Bread and wine are commonly available throughout the world. It is a
rare church that hasn’t the money to have communion.
It is resistant to “battle damage.”
By this we mean changes in theology. For example, many churches
shifted from the use of wine to the use of grape juice — with
apparently little effect.
The system works. Each and every time
we participate, communion reminds us of the atoning sacrifice of
Jesus Christ. The bread is his body; the cup is his blood — and we
are reminded of his great love for his church, shown on the Cross.