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Communion Meditations (2017)


Originally scheduled for November 5

Mentioned the word “alien” and you get one of two definitions.

·         It is frequently used in a discussion of those who cross our borders, whether they do so legally or not. An alien is someone living in the United States who is not a citizen of the United States. We presume their loyalty to lie towards another country.

·         It is also used to describe extraterrestrial life forms — as in “space aliens.” I have it on good authority that these are the leading cause of cookies disappearing from the cookie jar.

It’s the same word, “alien”, but the meanings seem quite different. What they have in common is this: both the immigrant and the extraterrestrial belong someplace else. We can safely assume that their loyalties are towards wherever that “somewhere else” might happen to be.

Christian should be able to understand this. As the old hymn put it, “This World Is Not My Home.” We are on our way to heaven, and that makes us pilgrims in this world. As the Scripture tells us, we are to be “in the world, not of the world.” Heaven is where we belong; the kingdom of God should claim our first loyalties. That makes us aliens in this world.

Of course, in any discussion of aliens you need some way of deciding who is the real alien and who is not. You need some sort of credential to define your aliens. Some years ago, the Los Angeles Times ran a picture of people protesting a state constitutional amendment concerning aliens. Thousands of people were shown with little Mexican flags in their hands. It had exactly the opposite effect the Times wanted. The issue came up in another amendment some years later; they ran an almost identical photograph, this time with American flags in evidence. If you’re waving the Mexican flag, we can assume you’re loyal to Mexico. I’m not exactly certain what the equivalent would be for space aliens.

Communion, in a way, is our set of credentials to be identified as a Christian. No one but a Christian would want to do this; it only makes sense for the Christian. The bread and the cup are identified as the body and the blood of Christ. Indeed, we are told that by taking communion we proclaim the body and blood of Christ until he comes again (1st Corinthians 11:26).

So let me ask you: when you do this, are you portraying your real loyalty, or just going through the motions on Sunday morning? Do you see in communion the sacrifice that your Lord made so that you might be a pilgrim on the way to heaven? Those are serious thoughts; so it is we are given time to examine ourselves that we might not take this lightly. Think before you partake; then take the body and blood in all seriousness.

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