Welcome to Becomning Closer! 

Communion Meditations (2014)

The Stolen Turtle

Originally scheduled for September 7

When I was a boy I was prohibited from owning the more normal sort of pet, such as a dog or cat.  Anything with fur set off my sister’s allergies, which were quite severe.  My father therefore reasoned that I would be well off with a turtle, and got me one.  It was about the size of a half-dollar, and came with its own terrarium, appropriately sized.  All was well until one day I noticed that the turtle was missing – AWOL, if you please.  It took little investigation to discover what had happened;  one of the other children in the neighborhood had recently acquired such a turtle, his parents knew not where.  They soon had the truth out of the child.

Quite properly, the parents wanted to return the turtle.  There was one slight difficulty:  in the process of being hijacked, the turtle had died.  The parents decided that it would be appropriate therefore to supply a replacement.  Unfortunately, the replacement reptile was about three times the diameter of the original.  It could not possibly live in the terrarium. They had captured it at a local stream, and so we returned it to its habitat.  This caused little grief, because the turtle in question was one of the ugliest of God’s creatures I had ever seen.  The first turtle was cute; this one was mostly notable for its monotone mud color.

Have you ever approached your own sin that way?  We are to ask forgiveness of our Lord for our sins; it is the only acceptable way.  But sometimes we find ourselves trying to substitute our own atonement for his.  By making amends in our own way – bringing in the ugly turtle – we think we have cleared the matter.  We have not.  Only the forgiveness of Christ will do.

This does not mean that we shouldn’t make amends to those we have sinned against.  We should do that, in order that we may be reconciled to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  In so doing we build up the unity of the church; we strengthen our fellow Christians by our example; we often will be able to replace anger with love.  But let us not mistake this process for the forgiveness given by God.  It is not a question of either/or but both.  We need to make amends for our sins as we can, and we need to seek God’s forgiveness for them.  That forgiveness is not based on our efforts but upon the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary.

At no time is it more important to remember this than at Communion.  By taking Communion you acknowledge the body and blood of Christ as necessary both for your salvation and your forgiveness.  Do not, therefore, attempt to substitute your own actions for what Christ alone can do.  Have the humility to accept and proclaim that Jesus paid it all – all the debt of sin you have.  We are to examine ourselves before taking Communion; it seems that distinguishing our efforts from his atonement might just be a good place to start.

Previous     Home     Next