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Communion Meditations (2017)


Originally scheduled for April 16

A tool is known and defined by its purpose. For a long time I took a magazine known as Woodworkers Journal. One of its features was a monthly picture of a tool — one that wasn’t obviously part of everybody’s toolkit. The purpose of the feature was to have you guess what the tool was supposed to do. Of course, the only way you could possibly solve the problem was to look at the thing and see what it could do, and guess from there. You can easily see the parts it was made of, but every craftsman knows that a tool is not just the sum of its parts. You can’t classify a hammer as being something made of wood and iron; it doesn’t tell you enough about hammers. You have to introduce the topic of nails.

In a sense, communion can be considered a tool as well. It is not just the sum of its parts, as our Lord, the creator of the universe, declared the bread to be his body and the fruit of the vine to be his blood. Here we begin to see the sense of purpose. So what purposes can we see in it?

·         This is something instituted by Christ with the apostles. It is therefore of surpassing importance to the church. So clearly, it is meant to be used by the church.

·         It is designed to be shared. It is a tool for groups, so to speak. Therefore, it must be something designed to promote the unity of the church.

·         It offers an opportunity for self judgment. This is explicitly included, and therefore we must conclude that this tool is designed to provoke self judgment. A man should examine himself.

But its major purpose for the individual Christian is to remember the death of his Lord and Savior. Communion, by design, portrays Christ death. You might ask how; it’s fairly obvious. The original design of communion includes a cup, which is his blood and bread which is his body. They are separate elements of communion. When you separate blood from body, the result is death. It is certainly fairly common for people to bleed to death.

But this is no ordinary death; this is an atonement sacrifice. As portrayed in the Old Testament we see Christ become the Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the world. When you take communion, you proclaim that death. But that’s not all you proclaim.

·         If you proclaim the death, you also proclaim the resurrection. The death of Christ would be a historical footnote were it not for the resurrection.

·         You not only proclaim it, you tell the world that you’re confident of it. You expect that he will return, in the flesh, to take his church home to him (the bride of Christ) and bring the final judgment to the world.

This all sounds rather serious and somewhat dismal. The return of Christ is not dismal. If you go back into the Old Testament you will find that most sacrifices ended with a feast. Christ makes this clear when he talks about the wedding supper of the Lamb. So one last thing you proclaim: Christ’s return will be a time of rejoicing for those who love him.

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