Do This in Remembrance of Me
We are so forgetful.
But we are called to remember.
Remember and don’t forget. Remember and let it guide your life. Remember and live differently because of what you’ve heard, witnessed, learned, and experienced.
This call resounds throughout Scripture. Remember!
So much of the ancient story of God’s people is a story of forgetfulness. People who were born of God—made in God’s likeness and image—but forgot their story, their creator, their way.
In the Bible, we meet a variety of humans: heroes, villains, supporting characters, and underdogs. But like any good story, as we get into the details, we find that most of these characters are complex and don’t fit easily into such categories. Rather than the binary presentation of “good guys” and “bad guys” in children’s Bibles and flannel graphs, each character is a mixture of good and evil.
As we look deeper, we may be surprised to discover just how many of our familiar stories are actually cautionary tales. This is what happens when you forget whose you are. Look what happened when they didn’t trust God.
Long before they were ever written down, these stories were told around campfires to train the young and remind the old of who they were, where they came from, and how to live.
They had to be repeated over and over, with some details being added and accentuated while others were lost in history. The repetition and the hearing had a way of etching the details and lessons into the hearts of those speaking and listening. And though these stories were eventually written down and made widely available through the advent of the printing press, the practice and art of storytelling remains a critical component of remembering.
In the Churches of Christ, we have a rich heritage of storytelling that includes a deep love and respect for Scripture, a strong emphasis on baptism and the Lord’s Supper, a beautiful tradition of a capella singing, and weekly proclamation of the word.
Across the country, “do this in remembrance of me” is carved into countless communion tables, most of which are placed prominently in auditoriums of Church of Christ buildings.
If you go outside Churches of Christ, you’ll find that each tradition has their own take on communion, and some don’t practice it very often. So why do we practice communion every Sunday in Churches of Christ?
When we come together each week, we remember our calling. Sharing communion each week calls us out of our complacency, out of our forgetfulness, and back to the path we chose when we committed our lives to Jesus and said “yes.” It calls us to remember and embrace the past even as we anticipate the future. We come to the table to experience not only reconciliation, but also fellowship—not only with God, but also with others. The table calls us to recommit to the lordship of Christ and to be renewed by the Spirit. The table is a place where the poor are fed, the disenfranchised are welcomed and treated as family.
We gather around the table each week for communal, joyful celebration of God’s redeeming work in Christ. When Jesus instituted the ritual of communion, it was in the context of a meal, and I think there’s something to that. He could have chosen some ritual observed at the temple, part of the sacrificial system … but he chose a shared table. Something at once ordinary and extraordinary. Something in which everyone could participate, regardless of age or gender. And then he broke down the walls of prejudice by eating with others who were not like him: sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes. Later God would reveal to Peter that Jews and Gentiles should be eating together. The table of God is open to all of humanity, without discrimination. This is the table to which we are invited.
When Jesus took the bread and the cup, he did not ask his disciples to remember his death; he simply said, “Remember me.” I tend to think it was a pretty all-inclusive sort of remembering: Remember what I have done for you. Remember when I called you. Remember when I healed the sick and the lame. Remember when I called sinners to repentance. Remember who I am. Remember my death, but remember my life.
Remember God who delivered us from slavery. Remember our story and learn from the mistakes of our ancestors. Remember God’s first desires for humanity: relationship, connection, interdependence. Remember Jesus as you extend hospitality and welcome to those around you. Remember and don’t forget. Remember and let it guide your life. Remember and live differently because of what you’ve heard, witnessed, learned, and experienced.
What do you need to remember today? What stories do you need to be passing on to those around you?