Why Remember? The Curse of Forgetfulness
It seems I spend my whole life remembering the things I should forget (annoying radio jingles, quotes from cheesy films) and forgetting the things I should remember (to buy toilet roll, where my keys/ phone/ purse are). Worst of all, it seems the harder I try to remember the more difficult it becomes (people’s names in the pressure of needing to know their name). Why are we plagued with the curse of forgetting?! Of course different things affect our ability to remember; our emotions, age, health, levels of stress but remembering is something that we all need to do — in life remembering is something that is demanded from all of us.
The Bible is full of examples of God calling his people to remember, he knows our forgetfulness! In the Old Testament God uses everything from rainbows to circumcision to help his people remember the promises he has made to them. Meals are also a key act of remembrance in the Old Testament — God encouraging his people to tell the story of his journey with them through the course of a meal.
In the New Testament Jesus is taking part in one of these meals to remember the journey with God (Passover) when he initiates the meal we now know as the Lord’s Supper. When Paul recounts this first Lord’s Supper to the church at Corinth he records Jesus as saying:
23” For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
1 Corinthians 11:23–26
In the same way some meals in the Old Testament signified a journey with God, the Lord’s Supper Jesus initiated is to help us remember our own personal journey with God. The starting place for this journey is Jesus’ death on the cross, and this needs to be a paramount grid reference for us. John Stott describes the cross in these terms;
“The cross is not just a badge to identify us, and the banner under which we march; it is also the compass which gives us our bearings in a disorientated world.”
The cross needs to be not just a start point but a point which sets the course, and yet we never move on from it but we must keep coming back to it.
And how quickly do we forget it? Here is the beauty of the Lord’s Supper, it helps us remember.
Remembering the death of Jesus is only part of the beauty of the Lord’s Supper. Communion is more than a red poppy or a coloured ribbon that serves to commemorate. In its very essence we remember Jesus’ death but we also celebrate. We celebrate that as Christians we are united with Christ in his death and therefore participate in the benefits of his death. We celebrate that through his death our sins are forgiven, we have been made righteous, we have peace with God!
This means that the Lord’s Supper is not just a symbolic meal but an act of spiritual nourishment. Isn’t that why when we remember we are encouraged to examine ourselves? (1Cor 11:28) As we pause to remember we also consider our journey; have we strayed off course, is the cross still our pivotal reference point, are we walking in step with God? The act of remembering Christ’s death becomes a spiritual health check; a place where we do not need to fear condemnation or inadequacy, but by grace where we can realign our journey again in light of the cross.
So as we remember as a community of God’s people by taking the Lord’s Supper it becomes a powerful statement. The statement is that we are on the same journey, a journey towards holiness. We are God’s people dependant on the death of Jesus for our salvation and to be our compass, we all have this in common, we are united in this, and we declare it publically to all who witness it. We are also united in the fact that we forget, even that we are sinful but the opportunity to remember at the Lord’s Supper brings us back to the table of grace. As God has done with his people throughout the Bible, through Jesus he invites us to his table, to join with him in his meal in fellowship with him as we remember.
At Christchurch we will be having more opportunities to remember with Communion now moving to twice a month. We will be taking Communion on the 3rd Sunday of every month during our service and we will also be having Prayer and Communion on the 1st Tuesday of every month 7:30pm at The Unit. We hope you can join us.
Jude Gibson, Pastoral Assistant, Christchurch Xscape