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Communion Meditations (2019)


Stumbling Block

Originally scheduled for January 27

Leviticus — the home of obscure commandments. Here is one of them:

'You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.

(Leviticus 19:14)


it seems rather strange that God felt it necessary to issue this particular commandment. After all, what would your mother say if she caught you doing this? Yet, if you know human nature, you know that this is all too common a way of dealing with someone with a handicap. Someone else can be made to look at it; we are taught to laugh at it. If you upbraid someone for this they will tell you, “hey, it’s funny!” “It’s only a joke” is used to cover all kinds of cruelty. It’s easy to  slide past the fact that doing something like this makes our ego swell; we are better than somebody else, if only a blind man. If you are a Christian, you are taught to “love your neighbor as yourself.” This clearly fails the test.

But notice that the commandment does not end there. You are given motivation why you would not do this. The reason? You are to revere your God, who is the Lord. Many of these commandments end that way. The reason has nothing to do with your sympathy for the blind or the deaf, but has everything to do with the fact that the Lord God is looking over your conduct. We forget who is the defender of the orphan, the widow and the powerless. We often think he doesn’t care; we can get away with it. It’s particularly easy to think this one; several people do it to the blind. If you genuinely love your neighbor you will not laugh at their weakness but rather help them with it. You are to be kind and merciful to them — as the Lord God Almighty has been kind and merciful to you.

This is how the Lord God Almighty has been merciful to you: despite the fact that you were a sinner, he went to the Cross for your salvation. Consider the alternative: he could have just decided to laugh at you. You’ve been a fool often enough for that. But he didn’t; he died for your sins. You proclaim that every time you take communion. The church goes to some trouble to explain the meaning of the elements of communion. When you partake of them, you are accepting that explanation and telling the world that you believe it and accept the salvation that comes with it. You believe that the bread is his body, broken for you. You believe that the cup is his blood, shed to cleanse your sins. In both, you proclaim his atoning sacrifice is both necessary and sufficient for the forgiveness of your sins.

Therefore, before you partake this morning, examine yourself and see if you have a sense of humor or just a sense of cruelty.

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