Welcome to Becomning Closer! 

Communion Meditations (2016)

Sacrifice Triumphant

Originally scheduled for June 12

On February 23, 1945 an Associated Press photographer named Joe Rosenthal took a picture. He was embedded with the United States Marines, covering the combat on an island named Iwo Jima. It is the only picture ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for the same year in which it was taken. You’ve seen it; it portrays five Marines and a Navy corpsman lifting the flag at the top of Mount Suribachi.

It’s not “just a picture.” In 2001 a similar picture was taken at Ground Zero in New York, showing the firemen raising a flag there — in the same pose that Rosenthal captured. Rosenthal’s image is burned into American history. Somewhere between “just an image” and reality itself lies the truth of that picture. The art of photography brings to the human mind a sense of being there. It touches the heart. It produces in our minds both the memories of that war and our hopes for the future. We remember the sacrifice; our hopes for the future include that our children will not have to make similar sacrifices. We hope that that flag raising represents sacrifice triumphant.

Photography is a relatively recent invention. Before there were photographs, people had other ways to remember the important things that happened. Sometimes they carved a statue; sometimes they wrote a book. But for the most central of things they created a ritual so that all might remember — and hope. Very often these rituals are simple things. Picture yourself in Pearl Harbor at the Arizona Memorial, listening to the 24 notes of Taps floating over the grave of the USS Arizona.

As a photograph has composition, so does a ritual. The most profound of rituals typically have simple elements with deep meaning. Ritual does not need to be fancy; indeed, Rosenthal shot his picture in black and white. We have a similar situation in communion. The elements are extremely simple: bread and wine. Simple, they are also easy to remember and easy to understand, conveying a very profound thought in a very easy way. In the bread we have His body; in the cup we have His blood.

In this ritual we have the most important memories of the faith. We remember the atonement that he made for our sins. But we also have our hopes. We look forward to the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. This ritual reminds us of the price He paid for that hope. His sacrifice was not in vain, for it brought us redemption. Sometimes sacrifice is a bitter experience, especially if we are paying a price for something which leaves us with no hope. The sacrifice of Christ leaves us with hope eternal; it is truly sacrifice triumphant.

Previous     Home     Next