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Communion Meditations (2013)

Control Z


Originally scheduled for September 1

Those of sufficient antiquity might remember taking a course in high school or college on the use of a drafting board. For those of a younger generation, this is the analog equivalent of Computer Assisted Design. One actually made marks on paper with a pencil!

The kit that came with a drafting board included a number of items; a T-square, a pair of triangles, something called drafting tape (which held the paper on the board) but probably most useful of all was the assortment of erasers which came with it. There were several sizes and types of eraser; a large gummy one, a short hard one, one that looked like a wheel with a brush attached and another that resembled nothing more than the rosin bag used by a baseball pitcher. Each of these had its own particular use.

Drafting is a precision art, and therefore you are also given a piece of aluminum with a number of cutouts, called an eraser shield. Even fixing your mistakes was to be done precisely. And one thing was very certain: you were going to make a lot of mistakes.

It must be admitted that the computer method of doing this has its advantages. Most computer users are familiar with the key sequence “control Z.” It means simply, “undo that last mistake.” It takes less effort than the eraser, and it is more precise.

But we might wish to point out to you that you can hit control Z more than once. The computer stores a large sequence of your previous mistakes so that you can undo more than one in a sequence. Even in the computer age, the computer knows that you’re going to make multiple mistakes. But there’s one thing both methods have in common: in both methods you correct as you go. You don’t wait for a finished product and then go back and fix all the mistakes; you fix them as you go along.

The idea that you fix your mistakes as you go along is well known to Christianity. It’s called repentance. Like the drafting board, like the computer, repentance depends upon your recognizing a mistake. This goes by the name of “self examination.” That’s the way you’re supposed to start communion; examine yourself. Once you’ve done there are two other things required:

·         The first is to get the eraser out; be willing to repent.

·         The second is to do so quite precisely. A general feeling of repentance does little good; repenting of the sins you know precisely does a great deal.

Note, too, that Christ prescribes frequent Communion. This is nothing less than the sense that you should “correct as you go.” Later is not nearly as good a time to repent as now.

As you do this, remember who made this possible. His body, the bread, was hung on a cross for you. His blood, the cup, was shed so that you might examine yourself and repent — and be forgiven by God himself.

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