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Communion Meditations (2016)

Hole In the Ground

Originally scheduled for March 20

The US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has a rather unique problem. They are responsible not only for the safety of miners in an active mine, but also for those intrepid fools who decide to explore an abandoned mine.

It’s not hard to list the dangers of exploring such a place. The gas in such an old hole may not be breathable — but it might be explosive. You can drown; they are often filled with water. You can simply step into them and drop several hundred feet. The walls can collapse; you can fall onto old rusty machinery; very often you’ll find some old and rather unstable explosives in them. And if that’s not sufficient for you, rattlesnakes love the place.

So you would think that persuading people to keep out of them would be easy. It’s not. As the government has discovered, such a mine is “alluring, mysterious and intriguing.”

The government’s problem is not a new one; it goes back to the beginning of human history. The oldest lie recorded in human history is simply this: evil is enlightening. Think of the things you’ll find down there! After all, you are strong and confident; you can handle any trouble that will come along. There it is: evil seems to be alluring, mysterious and intriguing — and with no downside. Not even a rattlesnake.

Evil may seem enlightening, but it’s the truth that will set you free. That’s one of the reasons we have been given communion. It starts with the fact that we are all sinners. The myth of the superbly confident, “I can handle anything” kind of Christian is just that: a myth. You think not? If we are not all sinners in need of a Savior, why would you take communion?

There is more to it than that. A mine is something that’s easy to get in and often hard to get out of. Communion is parallel to this; it reminds you that sin is something that’s easy to get in to and hard to leave. Indeed, our sin is forgiven at the price of Christ on the Cross; neither cheap nor easy. In taking communion you are reminded of who you really are: a sinner, saved by grace.

So as you partake this morning, examine yourself. Is there something that’s alluring, mysterious and intriguing in your life? Are you working up the self-justification to say that you can handle it? Remember, you are a sinner saved by grace. An abandoned mine looks very much like a hole in the ground and nothing more. Sin often looks enlightening. If it really was enlightening you would not need forgiveness. Grace reminds us that we have something for which to be grateful — and something else which we need to continue to avoid.

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