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
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.