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Communion 2010

The Body In The Library

Originally scheduled for January 3, 2010

Fans of the genre of literature known as the English Murder Mystery will instantly recognize the cliché: the body in the library. The corpse is found in baffling circumstances. It’s lying on the floor of Colonel Blimp’s library, with all the doors and windows locked and bolted from the inside. The locale itself is unlikely enough; but there is no weapon and apparently no way out for the murderer. Interestingly enough, the corpse is rather tidy – no great mass of blood and gore, just a tidy bullet hole with enough blood for clues. Of course, all this tidiness is there so that we can focus our minds on the intellectual puzzle: just who did it?

The Crucifixion is, in a way, a genre of its own. The method of death was common enough; but this particular death is unique. It is the prelude to the Resurrection. But the circumstances are baffling, at least at first. Here is the man who committed no sin; his offense was to be light and salt to a corrupt religious system. Why, then, did God the Father allow such a thing to happen? It is indeed a murder; a murder done by the local authorities. There is no intellectual puzzle about who did it. Nor is it a tidy murder; on the contrary, it is quite gory. The mystery is not focused on “who did it?” The mystery is why?

The body in the library requires a great detective – a Sherlock Holmes, a Peter Wimsey or Hercule Poirot. Red herrings must be rounded up, sifted and discarded until the triumphal moment when the villain is revealed. But the “why” of the Crucifixion is open to any man. The purpose is plain. God’s motive was his love for mankind. In the Crucifixion God’s mercy satisfied God’s righteousness.

Christ asked us to remember his murder as being of first importance. In the tidy cup of communion we see the gore of his shed blood; the bread, his body broken. By this symbolic meal we are to face again the central fact of the faith: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that we might live eternally.

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