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Communion 2011


Originally scheduled for November 13

A common debate in ethics these days concerns the matter of euthanasia. Our liberal thinkers are sure that some of us are not worth keeping alive. They base this judgment on a number of things; here's a small sample:

·        Some think that mirror age itself should qualify you for euthanasia. After all, you've been on this planet for 70 years; you're using up its natural resources, and are taking up space that could be occupied by other people. Just being old is grounds for a death sentence.

·        Even more commonly some think that sickness should determine death. This presumes, of course, that the doctors know in advance who's going to make it and who's not. The idea here is that we prevent old people from squandering money on medical care that does very little to lengthen their lives. (You knew the money was going to come into this, didn't you?)

·        Most insidious might be this: you are no longer useful. If you can't hold down gainful employment, what good are you?

It should come as no surprise to you that the Christian view is entirely opposed to this. We may take these reasons and answer appropriately:

·        Age? Remember when you were a little kid and you do, "red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight?" Are you ever too old to be precious in his sight?

·        Too sick? Do we really have the privilege, morally, to determine the date and time of our own death? The practical difficulty exists here too; just who gets to decide that you are too sick? Your doctor? The man from the insurance agency?

·        No longer useful? Useful as what: computer programmer or grandmother?

The root of the problem is our view of human nature. Good liberals see human beings as just a smarter ape. We see the body as the Temple of the Holy Spirit. From that perspective we may raise some objections to euthanasia:

·        What of the deathbed conversion experience? Would you deprive a human being of the opportunity to go to heaven because you are in a hurry to have him die?

·        Indeed, do we dare to deprive death of its meaning? Is it not to part of the human experience? It is appointed unto man once to die, then the judgment. Death is often a fertile experience in mending relations and bringing forth forgiveness.

The example is clear to the Christian: it is the death of Christ. He did not seek an easy way out; he did not seek to avoid death or to meet it on his own terms. He participated on the terms of a common human being.

As we celebrate communion today we need to remember what our Lord taught us these symbols are to mean. The bread represents his body nailed to the cross; the wine his blood shed for us. Our Lord embraced death to the fullest. He did this so that we might live.

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