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Communion Meditations (2020)



Originally scheduled for October 25

Cast your mind back to the time when Jesus went to John the Baptist to be baptized. If you will recall, John objected to this. His opinion was that it would be much more logical that Jesus baptize him. In one of those cryptic replies in which Jesus tells the truth without explanation, he told John that this was fitting “to fulfill all righteousness.” The theology behind this puzzled the early church for years.

Eventually the church came up with an explanation that made sense. Jesus was not being baptized for the forgiveness of sin — he had none — but as an example to the rest of us. It’s the solution to a problem we no longer encounter. But in the early days of the church it would be a common occurrence that someone who was a member of the aristocracy might refuse to be baptized. After all, the lower class peasants needed it, but surely not the local Duke or Prince. The answer to this objection is simply this: if the King of Kings and Lord of lords was baptized, do you think you are so high and mighty as to refuse?

It lays out for us the concept of Christ as supreme example. In many ways he sets an example for us, or sometimes we can look at it more clearly if we see him as the Pathfinder. He is our leader by example in overcoming death.

On the night of the Last Supper, one of the first things Jesus did was to wash the feet of his disciples. This is something that was done as a gesture of hospitality — but it was always done by the lowest servant in the household. It was considered a rather dirty job and it went to the low man on the totem pole. But Christ himself took up the towel and washed their feet, then he explained explicitly that this was an example that they should go and do likewise. Most of Christianity does not take this as implementing a ritual of foot washing, but rather that there is no task too low or menial for the Christian to perform.

We can see this as a sacrifice on the part of Christ. It certainly took him some time and effort to do this. If you or I were to do this, it would certainly be a sacrifice of pride. It would also reveal to those around us an aspect of our character we might not want to be seen: just how do we behave when doing something that is “beneath” us. It is an interesting possibility.

When you take communion, you acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Master, Savior — and as well, example.

·         As Lord and Master, you have promised to obey his commands. That implies that you will study the word of God so that you will know what those commands are. It also implies your obedience to those commands, and your willingness to spread this practice to all your brother and sister Christians.

·         As Savior, you accept communion as being the symbol of his body and blood. His body is represented by the bread; his blood, by the cup. You are making the explicit proclamation that he died that you might live.

·         You are also taking Christ as your example. He tells us that he came to serve, not to be served. You and I are to live the same way; Christianity is a life of service. The greatest example of service was at the Cross, represented here by the body and blood.

As we partake of communion this morning, remember that you are telling the world that you really mean it. Let there be no hypocrisy: mean it.

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