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Communion 2011


Originally scheduled for September 18

He is lying in a bed in an assisted living home. The man his lawyer said was, "the hardest man I ever saw in court" would be completely alone except for the paid companionship and care of the professionals around him. His family has largely given up on him; his sons no longer speak to him, only his daughter. Occasionally his mind becomes lucid again, and he realizes his situation.

Years ago he used to claim that he was "blessed by divine grace." He was rich; much of that money was made by his merciless business practices. He was smart; he saw business opportunities that other men ignored. He made a lot of money; he saw that as God’s sign of approval. He was charitable; he gave away money for college scholarships in abundance. If he had a frustration, it was that his children showed no inclination to be just like him. Their admiration eluded him. He was a man who was owned by his money. They wanted no such master.

He had one great fear in life: the fear that he would lose his mind in dementia, and end his days in a hospital bed with no hope. His great fear has been realized. Sometimes his mind returns; when it does he will try do exactly what he wants. He wants to get out of this place. He wants his mind back; he wants his money back. He still has his arrogance. Then his mind fades and he loses all touch with reality again.

This man is in his 90's. There is virtually no chance that he will be able to start again. Life, unlike golf, has no mulligans. You're not going to get the chance to repeat your life and fix all your mistakes. It is therefore wise to go through life fixing the mistakes as you go along. This is why the Scripture commands you that when you take communion, you are to examine yourself.

It is fitting that you examine yourself in communion. For it is in communion that we are often the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the symbols of the sacrifice which made the atonement. It is that sacrifice by which we are offered forgiveness. We need to correct our mistakes, to be sure. We also need to ask forgiveness for them.

As the old King James version had it, "it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment." Some of us go through life as if we are sure that we will have 30 seconds on our death beds to ask forgiveness for everything we have ever done. Do not be so certain of this; you may have years on your deathbed but no mind left to do the asking. Seek the Lord while he may be found. Follow his instructions; examine yourself.

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