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Communion Meditations (2013)


Originally scheduled for April 7

Over the last few decades most churches have noticed a distinct shift in the type of music used in the worship services. We have shifted from the old hymns to the new choruses.

The old hymns had their virtues. For one thing, they were generally packed with a lot more theology than the modern chorus. This, of course, implied that they had several verses to carry that theology. It is also quite the case that the hymn book often had in a four-part harmony, which implied that the congregation could read music and to some extent sight read music. Unfortunately, given the state of music education today, this is no longer a reasonable expectation. We have lost something here.

The new choruses feature much more use of repetition. Older members may object to the loudness and the thumping bass, but the younger generation likes them because they keep repeating the same message over and over. This is exceedingly useful in dealing with people whose attention span runs to about 10 seconds. It also makes them unsuitable as background music for communion.

If you’d like to start a church fight, just bring the subject up and ask which is better. We might gain some insight into that subject, however, by looking at the Scriptures. There is one section of the Scriptures which is in fact a collection of hymns, namely the book of Psalms. Most of the songs resemble the old style hymns; think of trying to do Psalm 23 as a modern chorus, for example. One of the most remarkable songs is Psalm 136, because it does include the modern style of repetition. In fact, every verse in Psalm 136 ends with the same phrase. The phrase varies by translation; those who are raised on the King James will recall “for his mercy endureth for ever.” We shall adopt the New International translation: “his love endures forever.”

Is it not remarkable that the only Psalm which resembles a modern chorus has that phrase? It’s as if God wanted to make it clear to us that there is one thing that can be repeated over and over and over again, to our profit. That one thing is, “his love endures forever.”

·         Note that it is “his love.” His love is not dependent upon ours; his love endures whether were mad at him or not.

·         His love “endures.” It means that it’s not only something that lasts, but it cannot be ground down. Despite all our troubles in life, God’s love endures all through them.

·         His love endures “forever.” We cannot see them into his love; no matter which interpretation of Revelation is yours, you see the great love of God portrayed forever.

As he repeated this for us in every verse, he repeats it for us every time we take communion. Communion is the sign of his love, for it brings back to our minds his sacrifice on the cross. There is no greater love than giving your life for your friends. Communion is the sign of the endurance of his love, for we are to take it until he returns. Indeed, it is the sign of his love forever, for he tells us that he will drink it new with us in the kingdom when he comes. So as you partake today, remember that he has one message for you. His sacrifice on the cross is the sign that his love for you endures forever.

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