Contrary to popular belief, most UNC grads do indeed know the value of a dollar. The other day a UNC grad had her car break down. The tow truck driver charged her $65.00 to take the car to the garage less than 10 miles away. When she told her husband that evening, he said that the driver had taken advantage of her. She said, "I thought so. But I made him earn it. I kept the brakes on all the way."
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"Back to Where it Started" 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
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My wife and I kept two special remembrances of our wedding: a tape of the ceremony and a piece of wedding cake. The tape was a much better idea. We froze the cake and then we ate some of it on our first anniversary. You've heard about chocolate cake? This was more like chalk cake. But the tape was a great idea. Often, even now on our on anniversary, we replay it. We relive that wonderful day that our marriage began. And we are there! Some couples go way beyond a tape - they actually dust off the old wedding dress, reconvene the wedding party, and do it all again for their 25th. You know, it's good for a couple to remember their wedding day. A trip back to the beginning can rekindle that spark.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Back to Where it Started."
It's important to remember and to revisit where it all began in any important relationship; especially in your most important relationship. That's why Jesus invited us to often revisit that place where we began with Him.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Corinthians 11, beginning in verse 23-26. It says, "The Lord Jesus, on the night 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, after supper He took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink, in remembrance of Me.' For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes."
Obviously, this is the familiar passage about the Lord's Supper. And Jesus is saying, "Remember Me ... remember My cross." And, in a sense He's saying, "Come back often to the place where it all began." Now this passage clearly establishes the practice of Communion, but I believe there is also an underlying principle here that we need to regularly visit the Cross where we were bought and paid for.
That can certainly happen at the Lord's Supper. But a heart-visit to Jesus' Cross can happen in your bedroom or your study as you let yourself wander mentally to the foot of that old rugged cross. You can do that as you're driving along or walking alone. You may go there at a time when you're feeling great guilt, of great pain, of great doubt, of great praise. But you need to look at Jesus there, agonizing under the weight of your sin.
The hymn writer expressed it this way: "Beneath the cross of Jesus, my eyes at times can see the very dying form of One who suffered there for me. And from my smitten heart with tears, two wonders I confess - the glories of His wondrous love and my unworthiness." You kneel at the Cross and you remember how serious, how ugly, how deadly your sin is; the sin that maybe you've been trying to justify or rationalize. And you again let His forgiveness give your soul a shower. You realize again how very loved you are by God.
It's there on Skull Hill that you strip away all your Christian meetings and activities. You lay aside your creeds and your rules for a moment. And you remember that Christianity ultimately boils down to two people - Jesus dying for you and you at the foot of His cross. It puts everything back in perspective. Where your relationship began is where the spark of first love will be rekindled. Let your heart go to that sacred spot often. You'll come away different every time that you go back to where it all started.
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"A Word With You" by Ron Hutchcraft is a daily radio challenge, with slice-of-life illustrations and insights - providing practical help on the issues that matter most. If your local Christian radio station does not air "A Word With You," please let them know how much you value this program. Over six years of transcripts are available online, at http://rhm.gospelcom.net/awwy.php
The heart procedure went much better this time than two years ago. I now have a total of four stents (bet you can't name anyone else that has more than one:O). I feel better now (breathing & energy level) than I have since my heart attack two years back. I'm free for tennis tomorrow afternoon or you can come over & shoot some hoops with the kids & me after that if you like... Thanks so much for your prayers - God is so very good, Two years back when I had a heart attack, I was 99% blocked. This time was 95%. At either time I could have been taken immediately just as my younger brother was in 2002. We'll see what God has for me to do for Him in the time left...
The sun bore down on my neck as I walked through the neatly laid stones, each row like another line in a massive book. My eyes strained to take in all of the information-name, age, rank, country-and perhaps also death itself, the fragility of life, the harsh reality of war. In that field of graves, a war memorial for men lost as prisoners of war, as slaves laboring to construct the Burma-Siam railway, I felt as the psalmist: "laid low in the dust." I felt like Job sitting among the dust and ashes of a great tragedy. Then one stone stopped my wandering and said what I could not. On an epitaph in the middle of the cemetery was written: "There shall be in that great earth, a richer dust concealed."(1)
It is helpful, I think, to be reminded that we are dust. It is crucial to take this reminder with us as we approach the vast and terrible events of Holy Week. The season of Lent, the forty days in which we prepare to encounter the events of Easter, begins with Ash Wednesday. On this day, foreheads are marked with a bold and ashen cross of dust, recalling both our history and our future, invoking repentance, inciting stares. Marked with the Cross, we are Christ's own: pilgrims on a journey that proclaims death and resurrection all at once. The journey through Lent into the light and darkness of Holy Week is for those made in dust who will return to dust, those willing to trace the breath that began all of life to the place where Christ breathed his last. It is a journey that expends everything within us.
There is a Latin word that was once used to denote the provisions necessary for a person going on a journey--the clothes, food, and money the traveler would need along the way. Viaticum was a word often used by Roman magistrates. It was the payment or goods given to those who were sent into the provinces to exercise an office or perform a service. The viaticum was vital provision for an uncertain journey. Fittingly, the early church employed this image to speak of the Eucharist when it was administered to a dying person. The viaticum, the bread of Communion, was seen as sustenance for Christians on their way from this world into another. Sometime later, the word was used not only to describe a last Communion, but as the Sacrament of Communion for all people. It is as if to say: our communion with Christ is provision for the way home. The viaticum is God's answer to Jacob's vow, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God" (Genesis 28:20-22). It is what Christ offered when he said, "Take and eat. This is my body." The journey from dust to dust and back to our Father's house would be too great without it.
As it is, we are flattened by the events of Holy Week. From the invitation of the Last Supper to the desolation of the Cross, we are undone by events that began before us and will continue after us. We are, in the words of Isaiah or the sentiments of the psalmist, like grass that withers, flowers that blow away like dust. But so we are, in this great earth, a richer dust concealed. Walking in cemeteries we realize this; following Christ we proclaim it. Standing before Holy Week as dust and ashes bids us to see again our need for God's unchanging provision. He offers the Cross, the communion of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and the life everlasting.
(1) This is a line from a poem of Rupert Brookes entitled "1914."
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