MEDITATIONS AFTER COMMUNION
"And they drew near unto the
village where they went, and He made as though He would have gone farther;
but they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us—for it is toward evening,
and the day is far spent" (Luke 24:28, 29).
Words spoken by two wayfarers, in all probability
disciples—not apostles—lowly men who were slowly retracing their steps amid
struggling emotions of sorrow. It was, too, on their return from the City of
Solemnities, at the close of the Great Jewish Paschal Feast, that Jesus met
The verses are surely appropriate for my own afterthought
and meditation at a similar hour—and as it is the retrospect of a
Communion season, I may well include in these thoughts my fellow-guests.
The services of the Holy Table are over; but, 'Lord, abide with us!' It is
'toward evening.' The sun is westering. The gates of the Banqueting House
are closed, and the Festal worshipers have dispersed—'Lord, abide with us!'
'Toward evening'—In another sense this may be true with
some who partook of the sacred Ordinance. Night is the emblem of sorrow and
trial. Their walk today with their beloved Savior may have been an eventide
one—the darkness may have been gathering, the earthly sun setting or
set.—Let this be their prayer—'Lord, abide with us!' It is 'toward
evening;'—with others the day of their life may be shortening—their sun is
past its meridian; the lengthening shadows portend approaching nightfall. In
the prospect of the final and solitary hour, they too may breathe the
invocation—'Lord, abide with us!' We are all of us, however diverse our age
and experience, advancing on the pilgrim journey; the milestones are
decreasing; the grains in life's sand-glass diminishing—Eternity is nearing.
Every returning Sacrament; every month, every day, every hour, may well
deepen the solemnity of the prayer, "Abide with us, for it is toward
evening, and the day is far spent!"
How am I best to fulfill the vows and perpetuate the
blessings of a Communion occasion? It is to take Jesus with me from His Holy
Table—the living, loving Brother on the Throne, as my abiding Friend;
to have the habitually realized consciousness of His presence and nearness.
"He who abides in Me, and I in Him, the same brings forth much fruit; for
without Me you can do nothing." What is the strength and safeguard of
voyagers in the midst of the storm? Is it not when the pilot is known to be
trustworthy—when they can gaze with confidence on the serene undaunted
countenance at the wheel, and the brawny arm steering securely through the
roaring surge? If in going out from the peaceful quiet haven of a
sacramental hour, perhaps recalling former experiences, I am dreading the
power of temptation and my inability to meet it, let me look to my Heavenly
Pilot. Abiding in Him, and He abiding in me—a living union with a living
God—I am in safe keeping. Heart and flesh may faint and fail; earthly
refuges may fail me; earthly refuges may become refuges of lies. But He will
be the strength of my heart and my portion forever—the only unfainting,
unfailing Friend, in a failing, varying world.
Oh, blessed be God, there is more than one Emmaus
journey. I have been privileged to traverse that road today. Though no
longer in bodily Presence, as when He trod this earth—though now surrounded
with myriads of glorified spirits, and worshiped as Lord of all, the
Savior's heart knows no change—His name is "Jesus Christ, the same
yesterday, and today, and forever." He still loves to make Himself known to
His people, as to these disconsolate wayfarers on the way to their village
home, "in the breaking of bread."
The thought often occurs, in connection with cherished
earthly friends who have fallen asleep in Jesus—and I believe most of all at
the hallowed sacramental hour—are these "loved and lost" permitted still to
hold communion with those they have left behind on earth? When the
mysterious tie is snapped which binds soul to soul in sweet fellowship here,
is there no invisible communion prolonged and perpetuated with the sainted
and glorified? May we not be allowed to entertain the pleasing idea—that
they hover still around us, and watch with tender interest our communings at
this Feast of love—the Sacramental Table a Bethel-ladder for the unfettered
union of spirit with spirit—"the bridal of the earth and sky?"
Who can tell? This, however, we do know, that what
possibly may be a vain illusion with reference to the departed, is a sublime
and glorious reality in regard to Jesus. The mysterious Stranger on the way
to Emmaus is no Stranger at His own Holy Ordinance. How many can tell as
their experience of that hallowed ground—"HE brought me to His Banqueting
House, and his banner over me was love!"—or, like the disciples on the great
Easter eve, "We have seen the Lord." If such be my retrospect today, I would
plead with an ever-deepening, reverential earnestness—'Blessed Jesus! Divine
Master of assemblies—Abide with me from morning to evening; and from evening
to morning again; for without You I cannot live; and without You, I dare not