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Communion Meditations (2019)


Rough Riders

Originally scheduled for April 7

Just down the street to the west of the Alamo there sits the Buckhorn Bar. The place is legendary. In its early days it would accept as payment for a drink various animal horns which were used to decorate the place. To this day they still have one of the finest collection of animal horns in the world. But the Buckhorn Bar is famous for something else.

In 1898 the door swung open to reveal one Theodore Roosevelt — yes, the man who would later be president of the United States. People turned around to look, and Roosevelt opened up in his booming voice with, “I’m going to Cuba! Who wants to come with me?” The Spanish-American war was on, and this was the place where Teddy recruited about half of his Rough Riders for that war. (The other half were recruited from Ivy League colleges; you figure it out.)

It’s an appealing story. You can imagine yourself sitting in the bar on a hot day with a cold beer when someone walks in and offers you the adventure of a lifetime. It was a grand moment. But Teddy didn’t offer this to just anybody. He offered it to men who were prepared to do the job. Think about it; they were cowboys. They knew how to ride a horse; they knew how to shoot a pistol and a rifle; they were accustomed to outdoor living in hardship. They were also patriotic, and saw a chance to serve their country. These men were prepared for the adventure. Note that they were ready for the call — but not expecting it. Life happens like that sometimes.

We have a parallel to that in the church: the call of Christ. Like the cowboys, we can be ready but we don’t have any good reason to expect it at any particular time. Think back to the time someone preached the gospel to you. Your parents may have prepared you for the occasion, but for most of us it came as a surprise on that particular one day (see Romans 10:14.) A few of us have had the calling of the blind man (Mark 10:49). But all of us will one day experience the call as Christ sends out his angels to call the elect of the church from all the corners of the world (Matthew 24:31.) We cannot know the day. But we can be ready for it.

Communion helps us prepare for the coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. How is this done?

·         Remembrance. In communion we remember the atoning sacrifice that Christ made for us so that we might have salvation. Thus we keep before us constantly the central truth of Christian life.

·         Repentance. As you take communion, you are to examine yourself. This is not an academic exercise — no, you examine yourself to find what you should change. If you’re doing something wrong, stop, turn around and do it right.

·         Righteousness. After your repentance it is essential that you continue in the correct direction. You must be an example of righteousness — no matter where you’ve been before.

To accomplish this, you must take communion in a serious, sober manner. After all, you never know whether or not this might be the last communion you take just before Christ returns.

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