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Communion Meditations (2023)



Originally scheduled for March 19

One of life’s more “interesting” experiences is the privilege of living one floor above a house of prostitution. Your author was serving in the army at the time, and our options for housing were somewhat limited. To answer the first obvious question, yes, the location was marked by a red light — and a good deal of trash such as broken beer bottles and other party materials. The occupants, or should I say proprietors, were also very proud of their sexual exploits. They would personally regale you with tales of odd forms of sex which they always assumed you wanted to hear. Hollywood portrays the house of prostitution is a place full of sexy looking, willing women, taking the shortcut to success. The reality is a lot more dismal.
One of the things that comes through when you talk to such people is a sense of complete hopelessness. They will tell you that they are whores and have no chance of changing. They see no way to escape the lifestyle.
Perhaps that’s how Rahab felt when the Israelite spies came to her. The scarlet cord in her time serve the same function as the red light in ours. She knew what God had done and dreaded the future in Jericho. She also clearly understood that Israel did not condone prostitution; she may have felt that the future wasn’t so bright in Israel either. There is a certain sense of resignation to living in the lifestyle not approved by those around you. But Rahab was given the chance, and she took it. If you ever have been down and out, you will probably understand.
Rahab’s scarlet cord identified her as a prostitute, a sinner. But there’s one thing we know about sinners: they can be saved. Just as the scarlet cord held her down in Jericho, it provided her escape when Jehovah came.
Communion shows forth a similar ambiguity. We say that we “celebrate” communion. We certainly remember what happened to cause communion. In that sense, we celebrate the death of Christ on the cross. It is the greatest injustice in human history — and yet it is also the sign of the greatest mercy that man has ever known.
So as you partake this morning, remember both. Remember the death of Christ, in agony on the cross, paying the price of your sins. Remember also the grace of God, forgiveness of sins bought for us at that same cross. In the bread you see his body; in the cup, his blood. Forgiveness is come to you; grace is extended to you — but at what a price! Remember this today; remember it during the week and extend the offer of grace to anyone around you who will listen.

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