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Communion Meditations (2020)


Many Sins

Originally scheduled for September 27

our sins they are many,

            His mercy is more”

(lines above are from a contemporary Christian chorus.)

It is a common characteristic among Christians that we don’t want to face our sins. This reluctance comes in a variety of flavors.

·         We certainly don’t want to face the ones that are frequent, or common to us. If it’s something we do every day we tend to bury it in our mind and hope that God doesn’t notice that we haven’t changed.

·         Sometimes we ignore the ones that are the variety in our lives. We may have one major besetting sin which disguises the fact that we have a wide variety of other ones. We don’t see them as a web in which one species of sin supports the others, but very often that is what we really have.

·         If we are good at ignoring our sins in and of themselves, we are even better at ignoring their effects. Sins, by and large, we recognize as being our own fault somehow. But when those sins affect others around us it is very convenient to blame the others for the results.

Our Lord’s mercy responds to these things. One of the immense advantages of Christ’s incarnation is that he understands what it is like to be a human being. His understanding of our sins is not a view from the throne of heaven as much as it is a personal experience. He walked among us; he knows what we are like; he has experienced the same temptations. Therefore, his mercy covers the things that are real about our sins, not just theoretical.

·         Do we sin repeatedly? His mercy is new every morning. He instructed Peter to forgive not seven times but 7 times 70. Surely his mercy is greater even than that.

·         Are our sins widely varied? Are they the kinds of things you think no one else in the world has ever done this? He has no list of sins to forgive, but forgiveness is offered for all of them.

·         It is not just a legalistic “certificate of forgiveness” mercy. Our Lord offers not just formal forgiveness but help in the healing of the effects of sin.

Such forgiveness does not come without a price. The Old Testament is quite clear; if there is sin, there must be atonement or there is no forgiveness. It is also quite clear that atonement for sin is blood sacrifice. To satisfy that law Christ needed to die on the Cross for us. But such a sacrifice is also must be pure — “without blemish”, as the Old Testament law as it. Therefore it had to be Christ who paid this, for he is the only one among us who was without sin.

As we celebrate communion this morning, we are commanded to remember that sacrifice. In the bread we see his body hanging on the Cross. In the cup we perceive his blood. This is the price paid. The result is what we started with:

our sins they are many,

            His mercy is more”

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