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Communion Meditations (2020)

 

Pomp and Ceremony

Originally scheduled for July 12

One of the things which is consistent across multiple cultures and people groups is the fact that human beings place a great deal of Importance on pomp and ceremony. There are good reasons for this.

·         A well done ceremony says something important — something that needs saying. It may be something we say to the world or just to each other. But the fact that we put it into a ceremony means that we think it needs to be said.

·         Ceremony is one way in which we pass on the truth to the next generation. The wedding ceremony for example is very instructive; even young children can learn from it. We may not think of that as the primary purpose, but often it is the most valuable use of ceremony.

·         One of the most common uses of ceremony is to confirm that we still belong or believe. A simple example of this happens in my neighborhood every morning. Those of us who are patriots go outside and put the flag in the flag holder. It shows which of us are patriots.

A good ceremony can be seen in the following characteristics:

·         Generally speaking, it is short with a long explanation. The ceremony condenses the truth that is being told into a short time. A marriage ceremony can be done in about 15 minutes; the marriage takes quite a bit longer. But in that 15 minutes we tell the world what we believe about marriage.

·         This is done, of course, by the use of symbols. In communion, for example, the cup represents his blood; the bread, his body. This is a very compact form of communication and is crucial to keeping the ceremonies short.

·         Interestingly, it seems that human beings have an opinion of the proper way for the ceremony to be done. They are offended when it is not done according to the “proper” way. It is a measure of the importance of the ceremony that we know the “right” way to do it.

 

Communion may just be the highest ceremony in which most of us will ever be involved. It meets these criteria rather nicely. For example, it is short and highly symbolic. It is also very important to the Christian, for it tells us the truth of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By the very act of taking it, we confirm that we believe and are still part of the group — namely, the Church. It is the ceremony that says the right thing in the right way.

It is not just a “meaningless ritual.” In pomp and ceremony human beings communicate what is in the depth of their hearts. As you partake this morning, remember that the ceremony tells the world you believe. It also tells the church that you are part of the body of Christ. And it reinforces for you that you have accepted his sacrifice on the cross as the price of your salvation.

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