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Communion Meditations (2020)

 

Quarantine

Originally scheduled for June 14

To those who are weekend sailors, the flag usually is interpreted as “Lima.” It’s usually flown in a series of flags to indicate the letter “L.” If, however, you look in the manual you will find this flag has a different meaning when flown all by itself:Lima

When flown by itself it means that the ship in question is under quarantine. The word “quarantine” comes from an Italian expression meaning “40 days.” Flying such a flag meant that no one on board could come ashore until the port authorities permitted. The idea of quarantine itself dates back at least to the time of the Levitical law. In the Old Testament, however, quarantine usually lasted seven days, not 40.

There is a problem with the concept of quarantine; an ethical problem. In theory at least, quarantine saves the lives of those who are not exposed to the disease. That’s the good news. But it also increases the risk of death for those who are on board the ship. A ship involves close quarters and the chance of being exposed is greatly increased. So it appears that we are sacrificing the lives of those on board ship to save those who are not. But I would point out to you a specific moral dilemma: what about the doctor? If you’re a medical professional, do you go aboard a plague ship? Or do you just wait out the 40 days and see who’s left? With modern equipment the answer usually is the doctor will go aboard, but the moral dilemma hasn’t really left us.

In a much greater sense there is a divine dilemma which is quite similar. If you are God Almighty, what do you do with a planet full of sinners? You might argue that we’ve already been quarantined; outer space is big and we are small. But there is the dilemma: you have a planet full of sinners. Do you just wait until the disease works itself out — say, in an all-out nuclear war? Or do you go down to the planet and try to fix things?

You know the answer. God came to earth in the person of Jesus, his Son.  The solution to his moral dilemma was that mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13). By his sacrifice on the cross Christ resolved the divine dilemma. But at what price? Remember what it cost for you to be rescued from quarantine: the body and blood of Jesus Christ. As you partake this morning, remember. He died so that you might live, abundantly and eternally. Consider these things well, and then partake.

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