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Communion Meditation 2021-09-12

Yesterday was the twenty-year anniversary of 9/11, when terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and into a field in Pennsylvania.  That was a terrible, tragic event, one that I hope never happens again.

The whole country, the whole world, was alarmed, very watchful, on high alert – and rightfully so.  Everybody was glued to their news sources – television, radio, newspapers – for days on end, wanting to find out more, to understand what had happened.

Which brings me to my own twenty-year anniversary, which is today.  On September 12th, twenty years ago today, I was scheduled to have my gall bladder removed.  We had confirmed that yes, the surgery was going to go forward.  So I went.

My memory is a little hazy, because of the anesthesia, but my recollection is that everybody, from the receptionist up to the surgeon, was watching the TV.  The nurse feeding me jello afterwards would kind of aim the spoon at my mouth and let me finish the action, because she was looking elsewhere.

Did this concern me, make me wonder about the quality of the surgery I had just gotten?  Yes, it did – but without reason.  As distracted as they might have been, the doctor and nurses were still professionals.  They got their job done, regardless of the cost.  They may have had relatives or friends on the planes, or in the buildings, but they did what they needed to do.

And that makes me think of Jesus.  He had a task – to do God’s will.  That included living a perfect, sinless life, and dying on the cross without guilt.  He gathered and taught the disciples across years, teaching and correcting them. He had one job, and he did it perfectly.  Was it easy?  No – He was tempted in every way, just as we are – but He resisted temptation.  Did He want to pour out His blood on the cross?  No, He prayed the exact opposite.  Did He do His Father’s will?  Yes.  Hebrews 12:2 says “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” He did the job, He ran the race, He won the prize.  That is what we are remembering now, with the bread and the juice.  Let’s pray.

Father God, You loved and still do love Your Son.  You loved and still do love us.  Thank you for having Jesus show us the way, and pay the price for our salvation.  In His name I pray, Amen.

I wish I was a dog.

I was having one of those whiny, gripey woe-is-me moments, thinking life was unfair, and then I realized that dogs have many advantages.  They get fed on a regular basis, and sometimes get scraps from the table.  They get to go for walks with their owner.  And even at the end of their lives, they aren’t worried, because they trust their owner. Wonderful.

Then I started to count my blessings.  I do have ready food, and choose when I want to eat.  I don’t get scraps from the table – I have a seat at the table.  Dogs lying around most of the day is overrated – ask anybody who has spent quantity time in the hospital.

And then, as He does, God moved my thoughts into the spiritual realm.  That table that I have a seat at – it could be anything from David’s “Thou preparest a table before me, in the presence of my enemies” to Revelation’s marriage supper of the Lamb.  Going for walks with my owner – well, the great theologian Merle Haggard put it like this:

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The son of God discloses

And he walks with me and he talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

The leash that dogs wear?  Jesus said “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.  All through my life, and at the moment of my death, and for all eternity, the Holy Spirit is there, comforting and guiding.

And all this is because although I am a creation of God, like dogs are, I am much more than that.  I am made in His image.  And because I have accepted the gift of salvation, I am a child of God.

So, my life, as it exists right now, even with burdens and cares, is much, much better than a dog’s life.  “This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”.  And why rejoice?  Because of God’s love for us, expressed through Christ and His sacrifice.  Jesus was willingly obedient, by choice, by love, to die for my sins and yours, to ensure that the end of our lives would not be the end of our life with God.  Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, as we celebrate communion with wafer and juice representing Christ’s body and blood, I thank You for the indescribable gift of salvation.  Your ways are not our ways.  Like Job, I sometimes need to put my hand over my mouth.  I know You love us, and You have plans to give us hope and a future, plans established in time immemorial.  Help me to seek Your will here and now, not wish for something not in Your plan.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Remember being in junior high school – everybody was against you, and nobody would let you do anything you wanted?  If only you could be in high school, because they could do anything, even drive when they got old enough.

Remember being in high school – nobody would let you do what you wanted?  You were an adult, almost, and you should be able to make your own decisions.  If only you could graduate right now, and then go to college or get a job, and everything would be perfect.

Remember being in your first job, thinking about how you didn’t have enough money to do what you wanted, how you had to live in a little apartment or with your parents, and thinking to the future where you would be rich and could do anything you want?  Get married, buy a car, buy a house – the possibilities are endless.

This sounds a little like “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” –  and there’s some truth to that.  Certain parts of other people’s lives can look appealing, but we don’t always see the whole picture.

But this isn’t a “be peaceful and accept your lot in life” meditation.  There’s some truth to that, too – but that goes against the Proverbs 31 wife.  Verse 16 says “She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.”.  That isn’t passive.

I am not recommending some sort of middle ground, where sometimes you’re active and sometimes you’re passive, based on a coin flip or doing what you want.

John 5:19 says “Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”  And that’s what Jesus does.  He has His own wishes and desires – praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He said “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.”.  He knew it was going to hurt.  And He knew that the physical pain wasn’t going to be the worst part.

But that isn’t where Jesus stopped.  You all know that He continued “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Jesus could have had anything He wanted – that is how Satan tempted Him. But Jesus, though He had a choice, did His Father’s will.

And that is what we are celebrating now – the death of Jesus on the cross, in the body and blood represented with the wafer and the juice, and the resurrection on the third day that gives us hope.  Let’s pray.

Father God, Jesus showed us how to live perfect lives.  He was in fellowship with You, and it cost Him His life, and gave us eternal life.  Help us to live not wanting more, but wanting Your perfect will.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Communion meditation June 6, 2021

Every one of us are unique.  We are created in the image of God, but we are not identical.  We all have something that we’re born with, maybe something that has happened to us, that makes us different than anyone else.  My wife Bettie has something that’s different, and only shows up when her hands get cold.

She has a thing called Raynaud’s Syndrome.  How it works is that some of her blood vessels like to go overboard – they clamp off the blood supply to part of her fingers if she gets too cold.

Fortunately, there’s an easy cure for this – just warm up, and everything is fine again.  The blood vessels open up, blood starts flowing, color returns, and everybody’s happy.

If she doesn’t get warmed up, I imagine there could be some significant consequences – we all need the blood to flow to keep on living.

And then I realized this is true for us spiritually.  If we don’t have the blood of Christ, we don’t have life.  1 Peter 1, verse 18 and into 19, says

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ

And that is what we’re celebrating now, the life-giving body and blood of our sinless Redeemer and Lord, available to all who answer the call.  Let’s pray.

Father God, You know us.  You see us in all of our imperfection, and You love us anyway.  You love us so much that You sent Your perfect, spotless Son to die in our place.  We are called to remember that, and to celebrate it.  We thank You so much for that priceless gift, the blood that washes away our sins.  We thank You for the gift of eternal life, and the calling to follow Jesus Christ down that narrow road.  In His name I pray, amen.

Communion meditation April 11, 2021

I heard something interesting the other day.  Seems like newspapers are having trouble getting the newsprint to publish their papers.  All that paper is apparently being turned into cardboard boxes for shipments from Amazon.

During these times of pandemic and quarantine, it seems like people may not know what they want, but they sure do want it now.  Psychologists have a concept called delayed gratification – the idea is that a person is willing to give up something now to get something more later.  I’m afraid that next-day shipping has thrown all that out the window.

But I don’t think that’s a very good way to think.  Goes against the idea of working towards a goal, of understanding what’s important and putting forth effort to get there.  That credit card bill is coming soon – there is always a price to be paid.

Delayed gratification reminds me of the description of Jesus, described in Hebrews 12:2 –

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Would it have felt better for Jesus to avoid the cross?  Yes, definitely.  Would it have been easier for Him to not be scourged, whipped, had a crown of thorns forced over His head?  I have no doubt.

But those things are a short-term release – immediate gratification.  Jesus had His eyes set on the long term – on eternity – because He knew what mattered.

With this delayed gratification, Jesus isn’t teaching us a life hack, one weird trick to get into Heaven.  He is showing us that being obedient to the Father is the only way to live.  His sacrifice on the cross, that buys our salvation and which we celebrate now, is a recognition of that, and a calling to that level of sacrifice.  Let’s pray.

Father God, you created us.  You created us with free will – we can choose the route of immediate gratification, or we can choose the straight and narrow road that leads to life – eternal life.  Thank You for the gift of Jesus to pay the price for our sins, and to be our Savior and our Lord.  In His name I pray, Amen.

I have been missing a lot of church services lately – my work has kept me away about half the Sundays. I participate online, but I have to say that there is something joyful in corporate worship – singing, taking communion together, hearing the Word preached.


And that reminds me of the words of King David, in Psalm 122:1: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.” He was happy, joyful.


Then on one of those “compare and contrast” moments, we have Jesus cleaning out the Temple. In the book of John, it is recorded that Jesus made a whip out of cords, and used it on the people. And in John 2:16-17 “Then he said to the pigeon-dealers, “Take those things out of here. Don’t you dare turn my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered the scripture — ‘Zeal for your house has eaten me up’”. Jesus wants to be joyful in the temple, but cannot be when it is being used for other purposes. He needed the temple to be holy.

We come now to the time of communion, where Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of Me”. This is a time of joy and happiness, as well as a time of becoming more holy. 1 Corinthians 11:28 says “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” That is not Jesus coming in with a whip. It is an invitation for us to take a look at how we have been keeping our own temple, an invitation to be holy, and invitation to joy.

Let’s pray.

Father God, You know us, better than we know ourselves. Thank You for loving us, thank You for sending Jesus to die in our place, and thank You for continually calling us to holiness. Thank You for the ever-present reminder of communion, whether in the church house or wherever we are – because You are with us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I have been missing a lot of church services lately – my work has kept me away about half the Sundays.  I participate online, but I have to say that there is something joyful in corporate worship – singing, taking communion together, hearing the Word preached.

And that reminds me of the words of King David, in Psalm 122:1: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.”  He was happy, joyful.

Then on one of those “compare and contrast” moments, we have Jesus cleaning out the Temple.  In the book of John, it is recorded that Jesus made a whip out of cords, and used it on the people.  And in John 2:16-17 “Then he said to the pigeon-dealers, “Take those things out of here. Don’t you dare turn my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered the scripture — ‘Zeal for your house has eaten me up’”.  Jesus wants to be joyful in the temple, but cannot be when it is being used for other purposes.  He needed the temple to be holy.

We come now to the time of communion, where Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of Me”. This is a time of joy and happiness, as well as a time of becoming more holy. 1 Corinthians 11:28 says “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”  That is not Jesus coming in with a whip.  It is an invitation for us to take a look at how we have been keeping our own temple, an invitation to be holy, and an invitation to joy.

Let’s pray.

Father God, You know us, better than we know ourselves. Thank You for loving us, thank You for sending Jesus to die in our place, and thank You for continually calling us to holiness.  Thank you for the ever-present reminder of communion, whether in the church house or wherever we are – because you are with us.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wayne Spry died Thursday, at the age of 94 years and a few months. He will be buried next week by a little church down in Kentucky that he helped build.

1 Thes 4:13 says Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

It is a different kind of grief – and yet it is definitely still grief.

From a birthday celebration three months ago

His wife Gwen preceded him by a few years. Her motto was FROG – Fully Relying On God. Interesting that tonight Bettie found a frog in one of our window wells – and as I was catching that one, I found a toad there also. I categorically do not believe that God sent these two critters as some sort of a sign – and I know that Wayne was also in the FROG category.

Wayne was a great man, who didn’t know how great he was. Humble, caring, always dressed up to go to church. For him, that was part of honoring God.

I’m going to miss him.

In 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 it says “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Do this in remembrance of Me. It’s a commandment from Jesus. We even have it on the front of our communion table. But what does it mean?

Somewhere, across history, there is probably somebody who said “Jesus – long hair, beard, good with kids. I remember him”. But I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant.

Then there are the people who know about Jesus. They go a bit deeper – facts about Jesus. And there’s a little deeper level – being able to say what the facts mean.

Then there’s even deeper – asking “What Would Jesus Do”. And then applying it. I do have to caution you – there is also an element of timing. If you’re coming out of a bank with a lot of money, asking “What Would Jesus Do?” is great. On the other hand, if you have just robbed that bank, and now your car won’t start, you probably waited too long to ask “What Would Jesus Do?”.

Seriously, though, there’s a difference between asking that question and doing the answers to that question. The Christian life – being in Christ, having Christ in you – takes involvement, it takes commitment, it takes sacrifice.

And that’s what we’re celebrating now – the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross to save us from a life of sin and an eternity in Hell. As we take the wafer and the juice, let’s do it in remembrance of Him.  Let’s pray.

Father God, even our best attempts to be like Jesus fall sadly short of His perfection and sinlessness. Thank you for accepting His blood as atonement for our sins. In His name, amen.

Mark 5:25-34  Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians.  She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.  When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment.  For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”  Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”  But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”.  And He looked around to see her who had done this thing.  But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.  And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

The woman who was healed, she did it by touching Jesus’s clothes.  Many were touching Him.  She came with intent, with faith, and was healed.

Now this was a miracle.  The power that Jesus had – and still has – is what healed the woman.  It wasn’t human means; it was supernatural.

I heard someone say that when a farmer prays for rain, God expects him to say “Amen” with a hoe in his hands.  And that’s what this woman did.

Her faith healed her, but it was her faith in action.  She had just as much faith a second before touching Jesus’ clothes, but there is something about the person of Jesus, something about touching Him.

Jesus died, was crucified, so that we could be healed without touching Him physically. And that’s what we’re celebrating now, with the wafer and the juice representing His body and His blood.  Let’s pray.

Lord God, You don’t look at us on the outside – You see into our hearts to see our intentions, our faith.  We are judged not by appearances, not by human effort.  Thank You for the gift of Jesus, Whose sacrifice allows us to become holy, and to enter into Your presence.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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