I was preparing to lead communion recently, trying to pay attention to the familiar words that now so easily roll off my tongue.
“This is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me”
The greek word which we translate ‘remembrance’ also gives root to our English word ‘amnesia’ which is a condition that describes memory loss. We also get our word ‘amnesty’ from the same root: it literally means ‘to forget someones sins’.
So I found myself mulling over remembering and forgetting!
Unless we intentionally recall certain things to our mind, we will tend to forget them. There are numerous phone numbers, PIN codes, shortcuts on my computers menu that I forget because I do not often recall them to my mind. A little over a decade ago, I used to be able to recall dozens of phone numbers. Now, thanks to smartphones and speed dials, I hardly remember any numbers because I rarely have to recall them to my mind.
In the Lord’s supper we are invited to bring to our remembrance the story of Jesus giving his body for us and establishing a new covenant in his blood with us. We are to do this every time we partake of the Lords supper. It is interesting to me that Jesus told his disciples to do this over this shared meal. Remember together.
Remember. Recall to your mind. Bring it back to your remembrance. Whatever you do, don’t forget!
God was used to warning his people against forgetting!
‘Take care, lest you forget’ is a refrain repeated throughout the book of Deuteronomy, accompanied just as often by “you shall remember the Lord”. [Bearing in mind that ‘Deuteronomy’ means the ‘second giving of the Law’ and you can already see why this might be a theme. Moses was reminding them of the covenant that God had made with them through Exodus and Leviticus]
But we are prone to forgetfulness.
Forgetful people wander in the desert longer than they needed to.
Forgetful people have no hope in what God might do, because they can’t remember what he has done before.
Forgetful people are foolish people.
Perhaps through bringing back to our minds the story of God’s goodness and deliverance in the Scriptures as well as in our own lives, we are actually changed. Perhaps our neural pathways are actually re-wired as a result of remembering our history with God’s goodness.
I’ve recently heard about a few Pastors who are discovering the power of taking communion every day. I think I can see how that could be very powerful. Every day you recall to mind Jesus giving his body for us and making a new covenant in his blood. Keep doing that on a daily basis and sooner or later you are bound to have a renewed mind because the story of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s deliverance has been rehearsed so many times that it becomes your controlling narrative.
In the spur of the moment during leading communion, I mused that ‘whilst some people drink to forget – we drink to remember’!
May we each be transformed by our remembrance of what Christ did for us as we engage in this beautiful sacrament