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Communion Meditations (2006)

Teeth Cleaning

Originally delivered August 6

The pattern is familiar to most adult Americans.  Every six months, you go to the dentist’s office to get your teeth cleaned.  That’s how the appointment reads, but experience has taught you better than that:  it’s another round of dental combat.

The tactics are familiar:

· The hygienist cleans your teeth—scrapes them, really.  As she does, she notes “problem areas” - things that need a look by the dentist.

· The dentist comes in, looks at the x-rays, says “hmmmmmm,” and then goes into his “Tut-tut-tut” drill.  He usually looks at you as if you’ve been surviving only on World War II surplus candy bars.  Then comes the lecture.

· The preliminaries over with, it’s time for your “drill and fill” exercise. 

There is a fundamental problem with this technique:  The dentist gets paid for dental work done, not dental work avoided.  In theory, he’s working himself out of a job.  It appears as if his workload should spiral downward, but it doesn’t.

Indeed, his strategy seems designed to produce minimum income:

· All sorts of devices are on display which promise to clean your teeth better—thus preventing all sorts of problems.  The hydraulic ramjet toothbrush and floss dispenser may seem a little outrageous, but the dentist tells me that it works.

· When problems are encountered, they are fixed as soon as possible.  This prevents little problems from forming a union, thus becoming big problems.

· And, as he does so, he works to ensure that you have only the minimum of pain required in the process.

It seems somewhat strange—but it works.  Therefore we cooperate with the plan.

Look at that strategy again.  It closely resembles the one Christ uses for us:

· He has a variety of methods used to keep you from sin.  It’s not just the threat of hell; he provides us preachers and teachers to show us the path.  The Bible is given to us not to decorate the coffee table but to be read—to be the light for our path.

· When sin arises, he gives us a time of reflection each week at communion.  It is a time to examine ourselves, seek repentance and live.

· And minimizing our pain?  He did that at Calvary.

So as you take the cup and the bread, remember this:  the reason you come back again and again in repentance is that it works.  But only if you cooperate.

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