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Communion Meditations (2022)



Joshua 4

Originally scheduled for July 24

In the history of Israel it would seem to be a very significant event. We still use the phrase “crossing the Jordan” to signify an important transition. For example, the phrase is used to describe going from life to life eternal. Joshua details the original crossing of the Jordan. In particular, this chapter describes setting up a memorial to that event.
Setting up a memorial, particularly made of stone, is a common practice among human beings. If we want something to be remembered, we put up a marker. The battlefield at Gettysburg has been described as a “marble orchard” for all the monument set up to the various regiments who fought there. This is something similar.
The memorial is made of 12 stones. Each stone was gathered by a member of one of the 12 tribes from the place where the priests had stood with the Ark of the Covenant in the middle of the Jordan. We can learn from this.
            There were 12 stones, one for each tribe in Israel. From this we can conclude that it was intended that everyone was to be represented here.
            The stones were from the middle of the Jordan where the priests that stood. They are therefore a fitting memorial to the miracle that occurred there. It’s a way of getting as close as possible to the actual event.
            The stones themselves mark a boundary. Their significance comes from the fact that Israel crossed into the promised land at that point. It is a memorial to a transition.
They were eventually taken to a place known as Gilgal. This was just past the place they crossed over. As Gilgal means “wheel” in Hebrew, we assume they set them up in a circle. This signifies equality between the tribes, reinforced by the fact that the stones were unmarked.
The stones are a memorial, particularly one which is designed to be passed on from generation to generation. “When your children ask…” You tell them the story. You tell them the story which shows God’s power. You tell them the story which shows God’s grace towards his people. You tell them the story so that they will remember the God’s commands. The memorial is to provoke teachable moments in your descendents.
Communion is very much parallel to this. It, too, is a memorial.
            Like the stones, it is all inclusive. Any genuine Christian may partake.
            Like the stones, it marks a transition — the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the start of the new covenant.
            Like the stones, it marks a boundary. If you take communion you are saying you have crossed the boundary into being a Christian.
Like this ancient memorial its purpose is to cause you to remember. You are to remember the power of God shown in the resurrection. You are to remember the grace of God, shown in the death of Christ. You are to remember the obedience you pledged to Him in return.
So I ask you: imagine that one of your children or grandchildren comes to you and asks what communion is all about. Think of your answer; contemplate it solemnly. Remember what he has done for you, and be prepared to pass it on.

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