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Communion Meditations (2021)

 

True Church

Originally scheduled for October 10

One of the earliest English language Bibles is known as the Geneva Bible. It was first printed more than 50 years before the original King James Version was produced. In 1560 it was introduced to the world. It was named after the city of Geneva which at the time was one of the very few places where a Protestant could be safe from being burned at the stake. It was the first English Bible to have chapter and verse numbers. It was also the original study Bible, as it had extensive notes included.

This meditation is taken from one of those notes. The note relates to Acts 2:42:

And they continued in the Apostles doctrine, and fellowship, and breaking of bread, and prayers. (Acts 2:42 Geneva)

The footnote for this verse reads:

The marks of the true Church are the doctrine of the apostles, the duties of charity, the pure and simple administration of the ordinances, and the true invocation used by all of the faithful.”

It’s a pretty good description of what the true church should look like. What may seem funny to you is that they include communion (“ordinances”) done correctly as one of these essentials. After all, it’s easy to understand following the apostles doctrine. The truth is the truth and you should follow it. The duties of charity our way of showing our fellowship with each other (see John 13:35). And as children of God we should be expected to be in constant conversation with our Heavenly Father.

But communion sometimes provokes the response of, “it’s just a ritual.” We need to understand the significance of rituals.

First, rituals are important. If you don’t think so, think back to your wedding. Did you just go down to the county clerk’s office and casually get married? Or did you spend a lot of time, money and effort doing it in a church? Was it important?

Second, we insist on the accuracy of our rituals. We have to do it the right way. Think of it this way: if somebody in a local school district decided to “revise” the Pledge of Allegiance, the national anthem or some other ceremony about which we have strong thoughts, do you think there would be a fuss? Of course there would be — we want our rituals to be done right. That’s normal human behavior.

Why? Because rituals say something important, often something that cannot really be expressed in words. So what does communion say that is so hard to express in words?

·        It tells the world that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed Jesus, the Christ, the incarnation of the living God. He is human like us, but he is also God.

·        It clearly proclaims the death (and thus the atonement), burial and resurrection of Jesus. No one else ever has told us he would walk out of the grave — and then did it.

·        It also marks the fact that Christ is coming again to judge the living and the dead.

If these were not sufficient, one other thing that taking communion proclaims: your faith. It doesn’t just tell the world these things about Christ; it tells the world that you follow Christ and believe these things.

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