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Communion Meditations (2020)

 

Gettysburg

Originally scheduled for April 19

Students of English prose recognize the opening immediately: “Four score and seven years ago…” It is, of course, the opening of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. If you will read through the entire speech — it takes no more than three or four minutes — you will discover that it is a commemoration of suffering and sacrifice. The battle of Gettysburg itself was the turning point in the American Civil War. “Turning point” is not the same thing as victory. Winston Churchill remarked upon the battle of Gettysburg this way:

It was the decisive battle of the American Civil War. No one after Gettysburg doubted which way the dread balance of war would incline, yet far more blood was shed after the Union victory than in all the fighting which went before.

For the Christian, the Cross is the Gettysburg in the history of mankind’s dealing with sin. It is a point in time in which there is great suffering and sacrifice — and it is the point in time which marks the beginning of the end for the accuser of mankind, Satan. The suffering of Christ on the cross guaranteed the victory over evil.

This does not mean that the Christian will not suffer. Suffering for the name of Christ is a part of the Christian life. You may recall from the book of Acts that when Ananias was sent to Paul he was told to tell Paul how much he would suffer for the name of Christ. Ananias was given no vision of the greatness that Paul would achieve in the church; just the suffering. Throughout the New Testament there is the idea that those who serve Christ will be persecuted (2 Timothy 2:12) . We are also told that if we are suffering with him we will be glorified with him (Romans 8:7).

Communion is a picture of Christ’s suffering. As such, it reminds us that his sacrifice on the Cross was the greatest proof of his love for mankind (John 15:13). We are reminded every time we take Communion of his body being sacrificed for us (the bread) and his blood being shed for us (the cup). As you partake of Communion today, you proclaim your self willing to suffer for the name of Christ. Therefore, as the old hymn puts it,

            Take the name of Jesus with you

            Child of sorrow and woe

            It will joy and comfort give you

            Take it then where’ ere you go.

The war is won. The battle rages on, and you are part of it. Accept your suffering and sacrifice willingly; look forward to the glory to come.

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