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Communion 2011


Originally scheduled for July 3

One of the most striking things about the Temple of Solomon is the amount of gold that was used to construct it. Depending upon which system of weights and measures you trust, the amount of gold could have been several hundred tons. Gold was everywhere in the Temple; bronze was used only because of its structural strength, like stone and wood. The wood was always overlaid with gold; the entire Temple was lined with gold.

The Temple was designed to stress the great distance between man and God. There were a series of courtyards, each more restrictive than the last until you reach the Holy of Holies, which could be entered only by the High Priest and only once a year. But the very first restriction was this: only the Jews could enter into the second court. The net effect was a portrayal of God as being mysterious, distant, and almost an approachable.

May I ask you to compare that with communion today? Think, for a moment, about the gold. Some churches use communion trays that are colored in a gold tone, but picking up with gold object that size would not be something that was easy. Most such trays are made of aluminum or of wood. The material in your communion trays is seldom a point of pride and honor. More than that, communion is open to all. Some denominations restrict communion to those who are members of the congregation; others open to all believers. The sense that only one person could possibly talk to God is gone. And is God mysterious? Hardly: Christ spoke in parables, simple stories, so that he might be clearly understood.

What has caused this change? The simple answer is that God has come in the flesh; he is no longer distant. This was symbolized at the crucifixion by the fact that the veil concealing the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom. God no longer hides behind that veil, but seeks one and all asking that they come to him.

In commanding communion to be kept, Christ has given us a simple ritual, which may be performed with common and simple things. He did not tell us to use gold trays; nor did he tell us the bread had to be baked at a bakery in Jerusalem. He used ordinary things because he is the God of ordinary things; indeed, all things. His style is one that says, "I welcome all, even the poorest of the poor." He welcomes all, even the most sinful. So consider well today as you take communion just how your Lord used the simple things to remind you of his sacrifice. His style is one that welcomes all, rich or poor, Saint or sinner.

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