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Communion Meditations (2016)

Dead Man's Curve

Originally scheduled for January 24

Driving in the Mojave Desert bears little resemblance to driving in the wooded areas of eastern America. You can almost always see for several miles ahead. Speed limit signs are few and far between, and often ignored. Desert highways are often straight lines and the temptation to speed is ever present. One particular highway, State Highway 58, offers a very unpleasant surprise in that respect. It parallels a railroad line for many miles. For some reason, it suddenly crosses the railroad and runs parallel to it again on the other side. The crossing is well marked with flashing lights. But if you’re racing a railroad train these things tend to be ignored. When you get to the crossing, very bad things can happen. The authorities frown upon it, but occasionally you will see a wooden white cross next to the crossing, with a name on it, and flowers beside it.

Oh, there are warning signs. A few hundred yards before the curve there is a large sign with flashing yellow lights that go on when a train is approaching. That’s like the warning signs we see throughout most of our lives; they come in three different types. There are the large ones, of course. But most of the warning signs we encounter are small — but constantly with us. How many times have you heard that bear proclaim, “only you can prevent forest fires”? The authorities attempt to warn us of the consequences of our behavior by repetition.

But there’s a third type of warning. It’s like those crosses alongside the roadway. These warnings are not big and impersonal, nor are they repeated very often. But they have a tremendous impact on those who know them. These are the personal warning signs in life. They are the things that tell you that you shouldn’t do something. Some of those personal warnings happen only once or twice; some of them are small things that happen over and over again. The real question is, do we listen?

Communion is that personal type of warning. You are to examine your self at communion. You’re not here to examine somebody else in the congregation, bemoaning their sins. Nor is the other person in the congregation here to examine your sins. It’s personal.

What are you supposed to do after you take warning? May I suggest that you might begin by promising the Lord your repentance, and then following up with action. This should be accompanied by asking for his forgiveness. That forgiveness is granted to you on the basis of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. You are reminded — and warned — by the simple elements, the bread and the cup, that he paid a tremendous price for you to be able to seek forgiveness. There is no suggestion you can do so without repentance. But as you listen to his warning, remember what it cost him to provide you with his forgiveness. That cross in the desert is a small pair of sticks, bleached white. But even the smallest of things can carry a large warning.

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