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Communion Meditations (2021)



Originally scheduled for July 4

For a more personal communion meditation for the 4th of July, see here.

 National Japanese-American MemorialIn the heart of Washington D.C. — a city full of patriotic monuments — stands one of the strangest examples of patriotic remembrance. It is a rough pillar topped with two cranes wrapped in barbed wire.

It is the National Japanese-American Memorial. The crane is a well-known symbol of the Japanese people. The barbed wire represents the internment of the Japanese people during World War II. The carvings set the context for being a patriotic memorial to those Japanese-Americans who served in the American military during World War II. Over 33,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry served. It is generally agreed today that the internment of the Japanese in large camps in remote locations was a serious mistake by the United States government. The camps are often remembered today; the veterans who served are largely passed away and often forgotten.

Can you imagine being a young Japanese man, incarcerated in one of those camps, volunteering to join the United States Army? Is it not likely that you would meet with resistance from your friends and family? You would be doing something that might be seen as very unpopular, or at least a little bit strange. Yet today we recognize these young men as patriots. Sometimes it is best to withhold judgment until all the facts are in.

Consider, then, the reaction of Christ’s disciples to the events of the Cross. Just a few days earlier they had entered Jerusalem in triumphal fashion. People laying down palm branches before Jesus, shouting “hosanna” and blessing his name. Could his disciples have possibly foreseen the Cross? It is fairly certain they did not, despite His warnings. The question had to go through their minds: “how could this possibly happen?” Jesus went from triumphant to common criminal in a matter of a few days.

Often enough we do things in response to the expectations of those around us. If we don’t, people are surprised and condemn us, at least behind our backs. Jesus knew this would happen, and went willingly to the Cross. It was not just pain and suffering at the Cross; it was social rejection. He died among the worst. For a human being who loves others so much, this may have been the most painful part of his death.

Jesus accepted this, and went to his death for our sake. As you partake of communion this morning, remember that his suffering included something that most of us cannot imagine. He was rejected by all of the society around him. He did this deliberately, so that you and I might have full salvation. His body and blood are on display for us in the elements of communion so that we might be reminded of his sacrifice. There was a physical sacrifice and also an emotional sacrifice. He did this out of God’s great love for us. We then, remember. It is our Memorial of his sacrifice.

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