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Communion Meditations (2012)

Does Anyone Know?

Originally scheduled for February 19

In 1976 the Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot produced what he considered his finest work: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It commemorates the loss of 29 souls on a Great Lakes freighter. The song is written in the modern Doric mode, which gives it an eerie, haunting quality. In the song he includes this line:

Does anyone know where the love of God goes

when the waves turn the minutes to hours?

St. Paul would understand the question. In Acts 27 Luke describes their experience of being shipwrecked in a storm. I suspect that Jonah would understand the question quite well. Navy veterans will recall the Navy Hymn, "eternal father strong to save, all those in peril on the wave." It is the feeling of being helpless in the face of disaster, and every sailor knows it.  Looking back upon such an incident, it does seem as if time somehow slows down – as if to give us time to question God’s love. 

Jesus knew that feeling. You will recall that one of the last things he said while he was hanging on the Cross was this: "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Where did the love of God the Father go during the trial and execution of this most holy of men? Think about it: was there ever anyone in history who was closer to the Father? Was there ever anyone in history who deserved the love of God more than Jesus, the Christ? Yet in his greatest hour of need he cried that he was forsaken.

One of the great joys of being a Christian is that your God became man and suffered just like we do. We may not have the answer to where the love of God goes, but we know that our Lord and Savior shares the question with us. Indeed, more than that: the most popularly quoted verse of the Bible, John 3:16, tells us that "God so loved the world." We may ask why he was forsaken; we are told that it is because God so loved the world. The greatest possible display of God's love required that he take it from his own Son.

In communion he asks that you remember this sacrifice. In the cup you see his blood; in the bread you see his body. In both you see his love. In both you see the anguish of the Savior. You have but a few moments; he had hours. Contemplate, then, the love of the Father — at the price of the Son.

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