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Communion Meditations (2020)

 

Drill and Ceremony

Originally scheduled for August 30

Military veterans will recall a constant feature of military life: drill and ceremony. It is almost the definition of the word “military.”

The manuals will tell you that the purpose of drill is to instill good habits into the serviceman. This is done by a constant repetition, often with the rhythm or cadence to it so that the body remembers what is being done. In the American military, the practice dates to the Revolutionary war. George Washington, via our ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin, asked for some assistance in drilling his forces. He received one Gen. von Steuben, who wrote out drill instructions each night and taught them the following day to a model company of 120 men. These men later became the first drill instructors in the United States Army.

Christians have drill, also. We may not see it quite that way, but anything that we repeat to gain good habits as a Christian is a form of drill. For example-

·         Scripture reading is a form of drill for the Christian. We should do it regularly so that we will be familiar with the Scriptures, reciting them as required in the circumstances. Think how often it is beneficial to be able to quote the Bible to someone in distress or to someone who is not really familiar with what Christians do believe.

·         Giving is another such drill. As God places opportunities for giving in your daily path, you have the opportunity to practice being one who is an imitator of Christ. You give at his command. It is something to be practiced — drilled.

·         Prayer is another such habit that is structured by drill. It is not just that we repeat this at the same time each day, but very often when we don’t know what to pray we fall back on prayer found in Scripture, particularly the Lord’s Prayer.

 

Ceremony plays its part as well. Ceremonies are essentially an opportunity to show the unity of those producing the ceremony, along with a proclamation. In ceremony we show the world that we are united, and that we mean to be united — it didn’t “just happen.” Ceremonies are meant to be seen. Ceremonies are meant to give people who watch them a conclusion about those presenting them. Christian ceremonies are designed to show the important doctrines of Christ. We have something to say; ceremony is very often a good way to say it.

Unity and proclamation work very well together. If you think not, remember back to the days when choirs were allowed to meet together and practice together, face-to-face before the virus hit. There is something almost humorous about a choir practicing in a Zoom meeting.

Communion also is a ceremony which has something to proclaim and which shows our unity. But it begins with drill.

·         You start by confessing what you need to change.

·         You move then to repentance, keeping your action consistent with your words.

·         To the extent possible, you then restore whatever relationship might be broken.

That’s the drill part. Because we take the same cup in the same bread, we demonstrate our unity in Christ. There is no special communion for those who are officers of the church; rather, communion is designed for sinners seeking salvation. That’s pretty inclusive, and we are united in that.

Finally, communion has something to say — a proclamation. It proclaims the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It proclaims that this death is satisfactory atonement. It proclaims that Jesus Christ is coming again, to judge the living and the dead. It proclaims not only what has been done and what will occur but most importantly Who has done this for us.

Therefore, in honor of the one who has died on our behalf and is now Lord, examine yourself carefully and then participate.

 

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