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Communion Meditations (2020)


Drunk Driving

Originally scheduled for February 9

The bailiff had his hands full that morning. He had about 40 men to seat alongside the courthouse wall — in alphabetical order. This was complicated by the fact that the bailiff spoke no Spanish, and most of the people he was seating spoke no English. After much arm waving and name calling (no offense intended) he managed to get all of them seated.

The judge came in, followed by a clerk carrying a huge stack of manila folders. A translator approached the bench and introduced himself. The proceedings began. The judge would call a name. The individual stepped forward and approached the bench. We then heard something like this: “I see that you’ve attended all the required counseling sessions; I also see that you have not been in any further trouble. Since you have completed all the requirements, you are now permitted to say that you have never been convicted of drunk driving.”

The reaction of the visitors in court was fairly quick. “What do you mean you’ve never been convicted of drunk driving? What are you doing here if you weren’t a drunk driver?” It seemed outrageous at first. But please think along the lines of our court system for a moment. Nobody wants to hire a drunk driver. These men had families to support. How are they to get a job if they had to carry the label “drunk driver” around their necks? So our system had developed a way to forgive and forget this offense — and likely enough to prevent the man from getting into further trouble.

There is a parallel here to Christ’s forgiveness. It’s really fairly simple when you think about it:

·         You are a sinner — no getting around it. If only at the Last Judgment you will face the court to account for your sins.

·         He asks that you repent so that you might receive his forgiveness. Repentance includes changing your behavior. It also includes getting help to keep you from doing it again. He then asks you to follow him, rather than the way of the world.

·         In response, he erases your sin from the record. You are now officially “not guilty.” It sounds a little outrageous, but remember that guilt is a fact, not just a feeling. By his authority, he changes that fact from guilty to not guilty.

But this forgiveness comes at a cost. Like all forgiveness, it is costly to the one who is doing the forgiving. Christ forgives you at the expense of his body and blood, given up for you on the Cross. He wants you to remember that. That’s why he gave us communion — so that we would remember.

Forgiveness is not cheap. This applies to his great example on the Cross, or our attempts to follow that great example. We cannot repay his grace — but we can pass it on.

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