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Communion Meditations (2013)

Per Crucem Ad Lucem

Originally scheduled for April 28

The preacher’s message that particular Sunday was both powerful and touching. He was speaking about human suffering, how it belongs to all of us and what we should do about it. To make the matter one of practical example he asked those in the audience who were feeling completely overwhelmed by life to stand. A small percentage of the people stood. He then asked those nearby to stand with them and pray over them.

To my complete surprise a young lady who was sitting next to me and my wife stood up. We gathered around her; as I was the only male within touching distance it soon became apparent that I was going to lead the prayer. I fumbled around in my mental attic for a while, and then remembered the old Latin expression: per crucem ad lucem. It translates something like, “through the Cross to the light.” The thinking behind this is rather simple. No matter how righteous you are, that is no guarantee that you will not suffer — think about Job, for example. Indeed, our Lord himself suffered on the cross. We are his servants; we are not above the master — we therefore must accept suffering as part of the human experience.

But see what follows suffering: the Ascension. Christ goes from horrible suffering to return to the light that is God. It is true of our own suffering as well; if we will present it to our Lord as being something we have taken upon ourselves for his sake, then the suffering will lead to the light of God. I have no method for eliminating suffering; but God has a method of redeeming it. So it was that I said a few appropriate words in prayer, and then we all said “amen.”

As we got up to go from the church, we ask the young lady if there was something of a practical nature we could do for her. She declined any assistance. That would’ve been the end of it, you might think. But as we were sliding out from the pews an older lady in the pew in front of us stopped me and began to thank me effusively for my prayer. I muttered an appropriate nothing; after all, I wasn’t praying for her. She hadn’t stood up for prayer. But God’s Providence was at work that day. She explained her gratitude in one simple sentence: “I have to go to the hospital this afternoon and disconnect my husband’s life support.” You never know when the person next to you might be standing in the need of prayer. Sometimes that need is  rib cracking and gut wrenching.

Perhaps that’s you today. In communion we use the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus Christ to remind us of his suffering and death. You are at the foot of the Cross.  Bring your burdens there. Accept these burdens as being for His sake – and someday he will turn them into a greater good.  You will go through the Cross to the light, for God is light (First John 1:5). But while your burdens  are still with you, remember the burden he bore on the Cross for you.  If he did not bear the Cross, we could not see the light. 

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