“D O THIS in remembrance of me.”
A statement carved on the front of communion tables in many churches. The very words of Jesus himself to his disciples on the last night before his death. “Do this.” He’s referring to taking bread and sharing it. Taking wine and drinking it. Eat and drink and remember Jesus when we do. Today this is a very formalized ritual. A sacrament. Back in the day it was more like a family reunion. More like a church dinner on the grounds. A weekly gathering of the Christian family with laughter and bountiful food and drink. Not at all the ritual we make it but just as sacred.
Do this. Share this meal. But Jesus is also saying “Do this” — his ministry. Keep doing what Jesus has been doing. Continue to feed. Continue to heal. Continue to love. Continue to forgive. Continue to share the presence of God. Continue to welcome, nurture, correct, stand up for the down-and-out.
Do all of this in remembrance of me. Remember his arrest, trial, death. Share this meal and remember Jesus’ sacrifice. Even when introducing the Lord’s Supper with words like “the joyful feast of God for the people of God” thoughts of “joyful” relate to remember the good news, the good Friday, the joyful (for me) that Jesus died for the sins of the world.
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“DO THIS in remembrance of me” is not simply — as important (as critical) as that is — to remember his arrest, trial, death and resurrection. It is to remember and celebrate his life. To remember and promise to live a life like his.
We see it, we experience it, we understand it most every time we attend a funeral. We remember the deceased, but it’s not her death we focus on. It is stories of her life we remember and share. How she read stories to us before bed. How he took us fishing and taught us how to put a worm on a hook and how we’ve passed that knowledge to our own children. How as children, we would stay awake long after “lights out” and giggle or tell ghost stories. We remember life. We remember that we are who we are because of crossing paths with the one now gone from us.
And then we go to the fellowship hall and share more stories over coffee and cookies or a full meal. The grief gives way to laughter and joy; mourning turns into celebration. It is a time filled with life, even in the midst of death.
That, I think, is what Jesus is talking about. Whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup, remember Jesus. Yes, most definitely his death and resurrection. But also his life and how his life changed your life.
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REMEMBER HIS GIVING SIGHT to the blind and to those who are blinded by their own bias. Remember Jesus sharing meals with rich and poor. In remembrance, share with others.
■ Remember Jesus forgiving those who sinned against him and extend forgiveness.
■ Remember Jesus refusing to condemn a woman caught in adultery and withhold judgment on others.
■ Remember Jesus offering life to the dead and to the dead in spirit.
■ Remember all that Jesus said.
■ Remember all that Jesus did — and do this, live like him, in remembrance of him.
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WHEN SOMEONE DIES with whom we were very close, frequently we say something like: “I want to honor his name by caring as much as he did.” “I want to live by the example she set.” “I want to keep his name alive by taking up the cause for which he lived.”
When we remember Jesus and how he lived, how he loved, how he welcomed, how he shared, how he sacrificed, we honor him by living like him, following his example. Remember what Jesus said and did and do it.
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BUT “REMEMBRANCE OF ME” is more than celebrating his life long past. It is remembering and celebrating his ongoing presence.
■ Remember how in your darkest hour Jesus comes to you and brings you peace.
■ Remember when you are filled with fear and Jesus provides courage.
■ Remember when you feel alone but Jesus is with you.
■ Remember Jesus is faithful all the time, always present with us even to the end of time.
■ Remember when giants fell.
■ Remember when mountains moved.
■ Remember when waters parted.
■ Remember when storms were made calm.
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WHENEVER YOU EAT THIS BREAD and drink this cup, remember Jesus. Remember his life and the abundance he offers your life. Remember his death and resurrection and the new life he brings to you. Remember he is with you now and always.
As you come to the feast of God, remember. As you leave the table, live as the people of God. Thanks be to God.