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Communion 2009

Undeserved Love

Originally scheduled for September 27

It is a Norman Rockwell classic. The young boy who has just received an injection is pulling his pants up – while standing on a chair, carefully examining the medical degree on the wall. Is this guy a quack?

The truth is that most of us judge our family physician not by the medical degree on the wall but by his manner in treating us. The famed neurosurgeon can be a graceless clod, but our family doctor had better know how to dispense sympathy as well as antibiotics.

Note, too, that we expect this kind of sympathy even if the medical problem is our own fault. For example, suppose you cut yourself on your table saw. It’s easy to say, “I definitely shouldn’t have done that.” It’s your own stupid fault, really. But you don’t go to the doctor to be lectured or laughed at; you go for sympathy and stitches.

 

It is a fact: we often don’t deserve the sympathy. Many of our medical trips are caused by our own actions, but we still expect the sympathy. It’s true in spiritual matters as well. If we seek forgiveness, we want it to be from the heart – which, by the way, is why we are commanded to forgive that way (Matthew 18:35). Cold charity and dutiful sympathy are a meal of cold, shriveled leftovers.

The only way forgiveness comes with sympathy is from a heart that loves, for only love can forgive that way.

 

That is the core of Christ’s forgiveness for us – his great love for mankind. The proof is at the cross; there is no greater love than this. It is in this great love that he asks us to be reconciled – to God, and to each other. As God forgives us with gracious sympathy, we should forgive one another. So communion, then, is a time of repentance and forgiveness. Even more, it is a time of remembrance. The emblems before you are a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for you. More than that, they are a remembrance of Christ’s unsurpassed love for you. Do this, in memory of him.

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