People of remembrance
“Remember, remember the 5th of November”. November is a month for recollection. From fireworks to poppies and the silence of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This week we will stop and recall the effects of war and the devastation of lives lost.
Christians are to be people of remembrance. We are instructed to regularly call to mind what Jesus has done for us and the world through the sacrifice of his life on the cross. Specifically, he asks us to do this by re-enacting his last meal with his disciples. “Eat, drink” he instructs, “in remembrance of me”. Amazingly, when we are asked to stop and remember him it is not before a memorial statue or building, not by the reciting of a creed, or even through seeking some mystical experience. Just “eat.. and drink”, says Jesus. Take the everyday staples of life, bread, and wine and allow them to become vehicles that bring what God has done in the past into our present experience.
Of course, the Lord’s supper resonated with all the imagery and story of Passover. The food signposted to the great story of salvation. Jesus was telling the story of God’s rescue with himself at the centre as the rescuer.
Just as Passover told of God’s liberation from slavery in Egypt so eating bread and wine spoke of the cross as the way out of sin and death. To take bread and wine is to say “count me in”, this is my story too, this is where I belong. God has set me free through Jesus my liberator and king. I am a fruit of his death and resurrection.
A simple act
Taking bread and wine is not only a recollection of past salvation it is a place of real encounter. I love how Luke tells the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. After recalling God’s work in history leading to the cross and resurrection Jesus break bread. Luke records that he, “Was made known to them in the breaking of bread” (Luke 24:35). Bread and wine conveyed also the real presence of the living Jesus to them.
The reformer John Calvin captured this in these words
Let us remember that this sacred feast is medicine for the sick, solace for sinners, alms to the poor,’ he writes. ‘As poor, we come to the table to “a kindly giver; as sick, to a physician; as sinners, to the Author of righteousness; . . . as dead, to him who gives life.” Truly, the Lord’s Supper “is a sacrament ordained not for the perfect, but for the weak and feeble, to awaken, arouse, stimulate, and exercise the feeling of faith and love, indeed, to correct the defect of both”
So what does it mean for you to take bread and wine in remembrance of him?
Let’s look forward, knowing that there is healing and hope, forgiveness and freedom, affirmation and commissioning and so much more in this simple act.