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Communion Meditations (2018)

 

Worth What?

Originally scheduled for March 11

The treasurer of the largest Russian Orthodox church in Los Angeles had a puzzle on his hands. About once a month there would appear in the offering plates a solid gold coin. The coin was minted during the reign of the Czars, a government which no longer exists. It was a minor inconvenience to collect these coins and take them to a dealer to exchange them for dollars.

One day he found out from whom those coins were coming. One of the elderly gentleman in the congregation, a man who lived in a very poor section of town in a shabby apartment, died. As treasurer for the church, he received the phone call from the apartment manager asking if the church would be so kind as to clear out the apartment. The clothes would be given to charity and if any sign of relatives could be found then memorabilia would be distributed.

Imagine the shock on his face when someone looked under the bed — and saw the gold coins. Lots of gold coins. Bags and bags and bags of gold coins. Had the man realized what they were worth, he would’ve been quite a wealthy man.

Sometimes that’s how we see things. Things which are familiar, we take for granted. No doubt the old man reasoned that since no one else was passing out gold coins to pay for things, the coins must be worthless — just souvenirs of the old times in Russia. If you think about it, we’re pretty good at spotting things that won’t work. It’s a matter of experience. But spotting something that nobody else thinks will work but you can see it working, that’s a matter of imagination. We go through our lives with our assumptions being blithely unchallenged. Sometimes that’s a rather pricey attitude.

Some of us look at communion something like that. It’s something we do on Sunday morning; it fills a little time around the sermon; it always looks the same. But picture it as Christ wanted you to see it: “this is my body.” Remember what they did to his body. They flogged them with a whip, then they nailed him to a cross and stuck his side with a spear. “This is my blood.” The blood dripped from where the whips struck and from where the nails pierced. It was gruesome, and it was unjust.

But — it is by his stripes we are healed; it is by his blood that we are saved. Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest atonement sacrifice of all time. He died a horrible death that you and I might live. Our entrance to heaven is not based on what good guys we are, but what a sacrifice he is.

Communion is not “just a ritual.” It’s not something we put in just to fill a little time; it is the core of worship. It reminds us every time we partake that he is worthy of our praise and all the glory we can give him. Look with the eyes of imagination; challenge your assumptions of what this is really about. See what Christ told you to remember. Examine your heart, and partake in a worthy manner.

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