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Communion Meditations (2016)

Never Prayed

Originally scheduled for April 24

It is a curious fact, and seldom mentioned. Concerning the resurrection, Christ often taught his disciples that this was something that was prophesied in the Old Testament. In doing this, Christ taught his disciples that this was God’s purpose from the beginning, and was not an accident or an attempt to regain control over a mission which had gone astray. Indeed, he himself prophesied it. He warned his disciples that it was going to come — and they probably misunderstood what he said. It’s hard not to sympathize with the disciples on this one; after all, nobody had ever done this before. Had he told them of the coming of the atomic bomb, they could have been no more bewildered. But one thing concerning the resurrection that Christ never did: he never prayed for it. Not once did he ask his Father about the resurrection. He took it as a matter of fact; God said it would be done, and done it would be.

We might well ask, then, what did he pray for? There are three things I might point out to you:

·         He prayed “that this cup might pass from me.” It is of some comfort to those of us who suffer that Christ greatly feared the suffering and death that he was about to endure. He is human, like us, and being nailed to a cross is not a ho-hum experience.

·         He prayed that “nevertheless” that the Father’s will would be done, not his own. If there was no way possible to avoid the cross (and evidently there wasn’t) he signaled that he would be the willing sacrifice, the Lamb of God.

·         He also prayed for us, the church. In particular he prayed for our protection — from the power of Satan. His death had a purpose, the establishment of the church. His suffering was necessary for this; he would see to it that his suffering and sacrifice were not in vain.

We are taught that we should take communion “in remembrance of him.” This morning may I particularly bring to your mind some of the remembrances:

·         Take communion in remembrance of his fears. He stared a horrible death in the face and went to it willingly. In this he was totally human; it is wrong to say that being God this fear was not real. Any reasonable human being would have been afraid of the suffering, and Christ was completely human.

·         Take communion in remembrance of his suffering. His was not a swift, painless death (as we might inflict capital punishment on someone). His was a slow, agonizing death delivered by soldiers who knew exactly how to maximize his suffering.

·         Take communion in remembrance of his death. None of us has experienced death and come back to tell about it. If you are fully human, death includes the dread of the unknown. It also includes the remorse of the “if only.” Looking backward, you ask if you could’ve done better. Looking forward, you ask, what comes next?

Even though he knew the resurrection was coming, the suffering — and the love which put him through it — were completely genuine. As you take communion, remember his fears, his suffering and his death.

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