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Communion 2009

Abundance

Originally scheduled for December 27

Christmas is a time of abundance for many of us. Many of us are delighted at the sight of a Christmas tree, lavishly decorated, topping a mound of gifts. Even those of us who are old enough to have everything except a place to put it and memory to find where we did see the tree as a reassuring sign of material abundance. The children among us see such a thing as almost magical. Even the youngest child loves the bright colors – and the empty boxes make wonderful playthings.

 

The word for “abundant” in the Old Testament has a more specific meaning: “to exceed a measure.” To be abundant is to exceed whatever measure you have for “enough.” That’s typical of how God deals with us. He is not stingy with our blessings. Nor is He inclined to “just barely enough.” No, he asks us to call on him to bring out blessings as if the windows of heaven had opened upon us, pouring out a blessing for which we haven’t room to put it. God is not constrained by our measurement; rather, he exceeds it so that we might know that he is God.

 

Nowhere is this clearer than at the Cross. There is no sense that the blood of Christ is barely sufficient; nor is there any sense that we have to make up some deficiency in it. No, it is an abundant grace. As Paul tells us, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Our sins can be measured; God’s grace knows no such limits.

 

The wrapping paper on Christmas gifts tells us that good things are inside. Such paper is often brilliantly colored, even gaudy in its appearance. The sign of God’s gift to us is quite different. The cup and the bread are simple symbols. Some churches perform this with implements of gold and silver; others with less ostentatious (and less expensive) materials. But in all cases God’s sacrifice is given to us in simple form. Nothing we can do could accurately picture God’s abundant grace. But he has given us the means to portray the price of that grace. Simple in form, pure in its meaning, it is a greater gift than any Christmas wrapping could ever hold.

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