Summary: Communion meditation
1The earth is the LORD’S and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; 2for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers. 3Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. 5They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of their salvation. 6Such is the company of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah 7Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. 8Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle. 9Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. 10Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah Psalms 24:1 - 10 (NRSVA)
In every person’s makeup there are certain ideas about God which we hold as truth unchallengeable; our beliefs, which are not up for discussion. Psalm 24 ought to be that. It was written to be sung antiphonally in worship. The soloist states the first phrase, the congregation answers back. Each thought builds upon the previous.
There is a rich truth contained in this Psalm about who we are, and that for which you have been created: we are not our own; we must live in a way that pleases God and not ourselves.
This is a reality Christian people must face every day – Our salvation purchased on the cross demands we give our attention to living with clean hands. One reason Jesus gave us this table is so we will remember that.
What does it mean to have “clean hands and a pure heart”? When my Grandchildren come to our house there is a rule – after eating, and before putting hands, face or anything else on the walls, furniture, etc, you WASH! What’s more, you will probably always have Grandma or Grandpa standing nearby. We supervise! We supervise because little hands are not yet adept at getting all the sticky stuff off a little round face and chubby hands.
If coming to the Lord with our prayers were about freshly washed hands, scrubbed with Dial or Lysol, it would be a simple thing. But, like my Grandkids, we need some help. Clean hands and a pure heart have to do with confessing the mud with which we live.
In 1969 I completed my tour of duty with Uncle Sam. Elizabeth and I packed up the car and left Fort Knox in the distance. When we got back home we rented our first apartment…3 whole rooms; very clean rooms!
My cousin Rick was still unmarried. He was like my brother and me, no sisters…the boys outnumbered the girls in his home. We invited Rick to our apartment one evening for supper. He showed up wearing his old Army combat boots. Sixteen layers of mud covered those boots from top to bottom. When Elizabeth answered his knock all she could see were those muddy combat boots. “Take ‘em off,” was all she said. “You’re kidding,” he replied. The look in her eye convinced Rick – the shoes stayed out in the hall. I took a picture for posterity.
In some ways we have that same problem – we come to the Lord with all this mud called sin, and we aren’t even aware. He says, “Take it off”. And we say, “Huh?” And the Lord says, “I don’t want anything coming into my presence with all that sin covering it!” At that moment in worship our hearts are broken, and we are undone. We know how muddy we are inside, and it makes us shrink back from God.
It is necessary, this table; it helps us keep our mud in perspective. The cross is lifted high above the muddy ground. When we kneel there, he lifts us up. And then he washes us off like a loving Mom or Dad will carry Junior to the sink.
There are those today who look down on the idea of Jesus being necessary. We are educated enough, sophisticated enough. We have medicine, science, philosophy and government programs. We can solve anything.
The problem with that is we don’t really know anything. The earth and its fullness – meaning the entire universe – is the Lord’s. It includes all who dwell on the earth too. That means HE decides how things work; your life and mine!
So often we begin to decide things for our own lives, leaving the Lord out of our plans. A man came to the church I was serving. He needed help on Christmas Eve. After giving him some of food I asked him where he goes to church. He never goes. I told him he was welcome here. He said, “I know I need God; He’s the only one who will never turn His back on you.”