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Communion 2009

Latitude and Longitude

Originally scheduled for November 8

Since the earliest days of sailing, ships have always needed to know where they are. This is expressed in latitude – how far north or south of the equator – and longitude, how far from a north/south line running through Greenwich, England. Latitude is easy to find with a sextant – but until the invention of very accurate clocks longitude was difficult. So the method of sailing was simple: find the latitude of your destination, sail along that latitude until you arrive. The system is extremely simple, and was used on a daily basis.

This worked well until you met an obstacle – for instance, a chain of islands in the way. Then things got complicated! For that you needed a few more things:

First, you’d need a series of charts to tell you what you will encounter on the way.

Then, you need a navigator to read those charts, and guide your ship through the obstacles.

Likely enough, there would be times when you also needed good seamen on whom you could rely.


In a way, Communion is like our sextant – simple enough, used frequently. In the Christian life we need that constant checking to make sure we are on course. We have the Bible as our chart; Jesus as our navigator and the church a collection of seamen of experience. Piloting the ship needs all of these.

Some of us act like our ship is sailing in Kansas. We are surprised when things change and new troubles come along. That’s one reason we are reminded to examine ourselves every time we take Communion. This lets us know where we really are on the spiritual journey of life. By making course corrections while they are still small, we keep the ship sailing smoothly. Is your life in Christ sailing smoothly? If not, take the time to examine yourself. You may just see the course corrections you need to take.

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