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Communion Meditations (2020)


Time Machine

Originally scheduled for July 5

It is a staple of science fiction: time travel. Since the time of H. G. Wells, writers have regularly use the idea of time travel in their fiction. It may seem curious, but the idea has fascinated many a physics professor as well. It is their dream to create a machine that will allow us to travel backwards in time. (The ability to travel forward in time is already well proven.) But since no such machine exists, we have no real picture of what it would look like.

This, of course, has not stopped the artists from trying. In 1960 there was a movie made based on H. G. Wells book and a whirling wheel contraption was used as the Time Machine. For those who watch Star Trek, entire starships are known to go backwards in time. But just where does science begin and art stop?

It is the problem of representation. Everybody gets to have his own idea of what it would look like. The question, of course, is whether or not the representation will resonate with the audience — that they will look at it and say, yes — Time Machine. One of the artist that has tackled this problem is a fellow by the name of Bill Waterson. You will know him by his creation: the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. Here’s what a Time Machine looks like to him:

 Time Machine

Any parent will recognize this as a perfectly valid Time Machine — for your kids. (If you turn this box upside down, it becomes a transmogrifier.) How is it the children can accept this as a Time Machine and the rest of us see a cardboard box? Simply put, they know the difference between what a thing is and what it is made of. Once they know what it is, it doesn’t matter what it’s made of.

Perhaps this is what Christ is referring to in Matthew 18:3 when he tells us to become like little children. It applies to communion as well. We know what our communion meal is made of: we know that the bread is unleavened bread, purchased at the grocery store. We know that the cup is grape juice/wine. In other words, we see the cardboard box. But if we look at communion and ask, what is it — the answer is quite different. In the cup we see the blood of Christ; in the bread we see the body of Christ. In the combination we also see the grace of our Lord poured out for us, for the salvation from our sins.

Communion is our Time Machine which allows us to see back into the past to the hill of Calvary so many years ago. As you partake this morning, look at the elements and perceive the “what it is” beyond the “what it is made of.” Treat it with the honor and respect you should, examining yourself before hand to make peace with your Lord. Be a child — of God.

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