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Communion Meditations (2019)

 

Receipt

Originally scheduled for October 13

The California legislature, in its never ending quest to be at the absolute forefront of environmental knighthood, has lately taken aim at a common phenomenon. Certain drugstores have taken to issuing receipts for your purchases which are quite long. These receipts have printed on the back of them a number of coupons which you can use to purchase things at a discount the next time you come in. The original purpose of the paper, being a receipt, has been superseded by being a source of advertising for the store. The receipt now is sometimes several feet long to contain all those store coupons. What used to be a simple receipt has now changed purpose: it is now way of delivering coupons — and return customers. I leave it to the listener to decide whether or not this practice should be banned on environmental grounds.

Things change over time. What used to be a simple receipt transformed into a receipt containing your signature for your credit card. That has now transformed into a source of coupons to draw you back into the store. How do we decide when change is acceptable? Let’s consider that as it relates to Communion. The apostles most certainly did not have communion trays; they did not have individual communion cups. These came about as a result of our understanding about bacteria. Is this an acceptable change?

Another variation is in when communion is offered. There are churches which offer it once a year; others which offer it once a month; others, weekly. There are even some who offer it every day. May I suggest a test by which you can know whether or not a change is acceptable: does the purpose of communion change?

Of course, to use this test you must know what the purpose of communion actually is. Why does it exist? “Do this in remembrance of me,” the Scriptures say. But in remembrance of what? We are told specifically that we are to remember his body and his blood. His blood, we are told, is the blood of the covenant by which we receive forgiveness of sins. May I suggest these three things which we should remember:

·         First, let us remember that we are now in an unchangeable covenant with God. It is not a contract we bargained for; it is his offer on his terms for salvation.

·         Next, let us remember that we have forgiveness of sin through that covenant of blood. We are the recipients of his mercy.

·         Finally, let us remember the price that was paid for our salvation and our forgiveness — the body and blood of Christ on the cross.

These are solemn purposes. Thus it is that communion is a solemn ceremony, not a festive one. Before you partake, examine yourself. As you partake, do so in full meaning in remembrance. Then go forward from here and be the body of Christ in the world.

 

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