In my sermon this past Sunday, I was trying to convey and drive home the significance of the Lord’s Supper by using my wedding ring as an analogy to the elements. I hope this will help us grasp the distinction between the sign and the thing symbolized AND the inseparable connection between the sign the thing symbolized. Holding up my ring, I shared this....
"This means a whole lot to me. In fact, it means so much to me that it consumes a large part of my thoughts, a large part of my prayers, holds a significant place in my priorities, and is worth every investment of time that I give to it. Now to make sure you are understanding me, I’m not talking about this little circle of gold. I don’t value the monetary value of this ring. This ring does not consume any of my thoughts or my prayers. This ring, in an of itself, as a simple piece of jewelry, does not hold a significant place in my priorities, and as merely a ring, it’s not worth any investment of my time.
No, what means so much to me is not this ring, it’s what this ring means that means so much. It’s the meaning of it. It’s what it represents. What’s behind it. This ring is merely a sign that points to that which it symbolizes, and that which it symbolizes makes this little, inexpensive gold ring worth everything! That’s why I wear it. Because I fully believe in everything that it means. This little ring has not changed me in the least little bit, but what it means, what it means, has changed my whole life!
So to borrow a word from “The Hobbit,” what makes this ring so “precious” to me, is not the ring itself. It’s what the ring means. However, what this ring symbolizes is all wrapped up in this little sign. In fact, the symbol and what it symbolizes are so tightly connected that if you were to ask me, “Wil, are you married?” I wouldn’t have to say one word to fully, completely answer your question. All I would need to do is show you this ring. And you would not conclude, “You must really love rings.” No! You would then ask, “Who is she? You must really love her!” It’s not the sign, but the sign is completely full and overflowing with meaning. I’m married! I’m in a covenant under God with a beautiful woman, till death do us part.
In fact, the ring and what it means is so intertwined that if I were to take this ring off and refuse to wear it, I would be saying a LOT! In the same way, because I refuse to take this ring off and not wear it, I am saying something just as meaningful.
Now, if you get that, married or not, if you get that, the ring is not what I believe in, it’s what’s behind the ring. At the same time, the ring and what it means are never to be separated. If you get that - then you’ve got the Lord’s Supper!"
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