Good Friday - As I reflect on our Lord’s bitter sufferings and death on the cross, I cannot help but think back to a service I once attended where I had the privilege of sharing communion with a small group of people who had Downs Syndrome.
It was a Sunday evening service in a small local church. That night one of the neighborhood nursing homes which cares for a group of adults with Downs Syndrome had brought them to the service. Some in the church may have been distracted by their outbursts, laughter and mis-timed amens. But I was impressed and amazed by their simple childlike faith and genuine enthusiasm for hearing God’s word.
When it came time for communion we all gathered round the altar and the pastor began to make his circuit with the bread and the wine. Communion was crowded that night. We were gathered two deep. Standing directly in front of me was one of the men from the nursing home.
When the Pastor arrived at our place at the altar he offered the bread to the man in front of me and said “The Body of Christ broken for you.” He then gave him the wine and announced, “The blood of Christ shed for you for the the forgiveness of all of your sins.” Upon hearing these words the man blurted out, “For MY sins. For MY sins.” He sounded like he was being given a precious gift. The joy in his voice rivaled the joy of any child I’ve ever seen on Christmas morning. This man, in simple childlike faith actually believed the words spoken by the Pastor. But they were not the Pastor’s words. They were Christ’s words. They were words of forgiveness. They were words of good news. That night this young man with the faith of a child believed the words of Christ and as a result he tasted the forgiveness of HIS sins.
The scene that unfolded in front of me literally took my breath away. It cut me to the heart. This man with Downs Syndrome preached a joyous three word sermon that night at the altar that ranks among the best sermons that I have ever heard. It is one that I will not soon forget.
As we meditate this Good Friday upon our Lord and Savior bleeding, suffering and dying on the cross. Let our hearts turn to the simple words of this sermon preached by a man with Downs Syndrome; ‘For MY sins. For MY sins.”