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Communion Meditations (2013)

Voodoo Doll


Originally scheduled for November 17

Most of us are familiar with the voodoo doll – if only in a humorous sense. There aren’t too many people in America who actually believe in voodoo. But the idea of a voodoo doll is a pretty simple one: the doll represents an actual person. By some magic act the voodoo practitioner stabs of the doll and thus causes pain to the individual represented by the doll. This must be done with a great deal of incantation and magic ceremony — otherwise the customer paying for it isn’t going to think it’s going to work. And voodoo priests want to get paid for their work.

We might call this “representational magic.” We use one simple thing to represent something else. In that sense communion is also representational — but the resemblance ends there. Communion is not magic; it is not there to manipulate things but to cause us to remember. The object of the voodoo doll is to cause pain to someone else. The object of communion is quite different. Its first object is our forgiveness; the Lord wants us to bring ourselves to communion so that we might repent and be forgiven. There is no sense that taking communion somehow allows you to manipulate God into doing what you want him to do. But there is a sense that tells us communion brings us closer to God; we are in communion with Him.

The voodoo doll is approached with frantic mysticism. A great deal of energy must be expended so that the customer will be convinced. Communion is to be approached with reverence, not mystic frenzy. It is the symbol of the very body and blood of Christ, worthy of all respect. Indeed, it is a more powerful thing because in taking communion you embrace the sacrifice which Christ made on the cross as being effective for the forgiveness of your sins.

So just how does one approach communion? A voodoo doll needs frantic energy and a collection of pins. Communion requires something much greater: a contrite heart. So I urge you today to examine yourself. Repent as you need to; seek forgiveness from those you have wronged. Bring to God the sacrifice of the contrite heart in honor of the sacrifice of his body and blood.

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