Originally scheduled for October 9
The year 1940 was a rather tense one for England. In the
summer of that year it was presumed that the Germans would be
invading rather shortly, no one knew where or when. But the British
Army was not about to be caught short in its paperwork. The
appropriate bureaucrats produced a requirement for every civic
organization in England to have a “War Book.” Among many other items
to be listed, there was to be a list of items available which might
be of assistance to the Army in its transport and operations.
The same requirements were proposed for the largest of
cities and the smallest of villages. In particular there was a
village named Painswick, population about 1800. Painswick is located
about 30 miles southwest of Stratford-upon-Avon. Their list of items
is somewhat unusual. They started off quite well by listing the fact
that they had 11 horses and 16 wheelbarrows. A little further down
the list we find that they had six bedpans, 10 pair of scissors
(denoted as “large”) and 13 hot water bottles. But just to make sure
they included everything, they added 7 ½ pounds of tea, three tin
cans of condensed milk and one fish kettle. The Germans having
failed to invade England, we shall never know what the intended
purpose of the fish kettle was.
It is a comforting fact of human beings that they face the
unknown and the dangerous with three questions:
What is the right procedure under the circumstances?
Have we included everyone in the procedure?
Have we thought of everything for the procedure?
Perhaps this is why our Lord gave us communion. It is a
noticeable fact that communion is done in a calm manner, reflecting
the fact that we know the answers to those questions. The “right”
procedure is well known, given to us in the Scriptures. The
procedure includes all who believe — for we are to invite all who
believe to join us in communion. And communion is so simple at its
very roots that it is difficult not to think of everything involved.
Beyond bread and wine, what else do we need?
Had our Lord given us detailed instructions for a
complicated ceremony, we would do our best to follow those
instructions. In his infinite wisdom he chose not to do that.
Rather, he gave us a ceremony which is so simple that the human mind
is drawn to the meaning behind it. We see in this ceremony the body
and blood of Jesus Christ, given for our atonement on the Cross. The
ceremony itself does not get in the way of our understanding of its
meaning. Sometimes the simple is also the profound. As you partake
this morning, let your mind’s eye I go back to Calvary and see what
your Lord has done for you. Then, in obedience to his command, eat