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Communion Meditations (2016)

Sneaky Fitch

Originally scheduled for August 28

Romans 6:9-11 NIV For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. (10) The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. (11) In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

 

A staple of high school drama departments, and many other stage companies, is a play entitled the death and life of Sneaky Fitch. I’ll let the narrator introduce you to Sneaky:

“Who-or what-is Sneaky Fitch? I'll tell you. He's the town bum of Western myth and folklore. But Sneaky is not content to be the lovable, ideal town bum of Western myth and folklore. Oh, no. He's a real bum! He is the most lily-livered, yellow-bellied, good-for-nothing, low-down, rotten-clean-through, miserable polecat that ever walked the face of the West! And that ain’t the half of it!”

In the course of this comedy, almost at the beginning, we find that Sneaky appears to be dead, to no one’s regret. The undertaker lays him in a coffin at the end of the day, thinking to come back the next morning and finish the job. Fitch does not have the decency to actually be dead, and in due course he wakes up. He heads to the town bar and discovers that everyone there is absolutely terrified of him. The reason is simple: Fitch is dead, and you can’t kill a dead man again. In the gunslinging West a man who has died and risen is invincible — and Fitch takes every advantage of this.

The key point, for us, is the fact that once a person is dead then death has no further hold on him. St. Paul makes the same point in our passage today. Christ died; and by the power of the Holy Spirit he was raised from the dead. He cannot die again, and therefore death has no hold on him. He then draws the parallel with the Christian: you are to consider your self dead to sin, having died in Christ, but alive to God. The act of baptism is the ceremonial acceptance of the death of Christ in your life; you are buried with Christ and rise to walk in a new life.

Communion is the memorial of Christ’s death. We certainly should remember his sacrifice in doing this, but we should also remember that we too have died — to sin. We do this by participating in his death, of which communion is a reminder. We are dead to sin because of Christ’s death. It is therefore no accident that we are told that we are to examine ourselves before we take communion. Are we indeed dead to sin? If not, what steps should we take in response? Ponder the sin in your life, and give thought to how you will repent and indeed be dead to sin.

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