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Communion Meditations (2013)

Pigeon Point Lighthouse


Originally scheduled for December 22

On the coast of California between Santa Cruz and San Francisco stands the Pigeon Point Lighthouse.  It was first lit in 1871, and is still in use as a lighthouse today.  The original equipment has been replaced several times (the light originally burned pig fat for the main light; it’s now electric, of course.)  But what might interest you about Pigeon Point is that it is now a state park.  Thousands of visitors come to see the lighthouse each year.  The station was automated in 1972; some time later the lighthouse keeper’s house was converted to a youth hostel.  In short, Pigeon Point is mostly known today as a tourist attraction.  But it’s still a working lighthouse.

Sometimes things do change purpose.  Around the world there are castles which, when built, were meant to be strong fortresses for times of war.  Today they are tourist attractions, complete with military ceremonies staged for the tourists.  While this is no doubt good for the national economy – tourists spend money, you know – the castle no longer serves its original purpose.  Many lighthouses have also had this happen;  Pigeon Point is an exception – it’s still a working lighthouse.

Communion is vulnerable to the same process.  Your author once attended a church which served communion on a weekly basis .  But you could see that they were just going through the motions, “to keep the old people happy.”

·         There was no communion meditation given; but to prevent anyone from examining himself they did play loud rock music all through it.

·         Curiously, they did not use either wine or grape juice.  They used pomegranate juice cocktail – it’s about the same color and it’s cheaper.

It seems that communion was just there to mark a little break in the service.  The objective seemed to be to cause as little thought or disturbance as possible. 

Yet – such is the power of our Lord – the original function of communion was still there.  The elements served still represented the body and blood of our Lord.  For those who had been brought up to understand its true meaning, the time of self-examination was still required, even if the music tended to distraction.  Like Pigeon Point, it was still there to guide you along the way.

Perhaps we might look at it like this:  it is pleasant that people come to the lighthouse to use it as a park.  But the mariner on the sea still knows its real value.  The service of communion may seem stale or hurried – but the meaning has not been lost.  Not for those with eyes to see.

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