tells the story of the Waldensians, a small Protestant group greatly persecuted
in Europe in the seventeenth century. In 1686 they were exiled to Switzerland
where they remained until 1689. Then they crossed the mountains, going 128 miles
in 8 days over treacherous terrain. Village by village they made their way back
to the valleys of their homeland in France. They arrived back in May 1694. Eventually
the Duke of Savoy changed his mind and granted them religious liberty and the
right to remain in their valleys. They called that May Day in 1689 “The
Glorious Return.” Descendants on the Waldensians live in Valdese, North
Carolina. Every year on August 15 they celebrate “The Glorious Return.”
But those who celebrate it were never persecuted in Europe. They were never
in exile in Switzerland, and never saw the valleys their ancestors called home.
Still they celebrate “The Glorious Return;” just as Jews celebrate the return
of their ancestors from exile though they themselves were never in Babylon and
never saw Jerusalem. We do the same thing in reverse when we come to Communion.
We commemorate the Lord’s death “until He comes.” We celebrate an
event that has not yet occurred and in which we ourselves may not live long
enough to participate.
Preaching January/February 2004
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