The Gift of Remembrance
The transforming power of Communion
The first time I celebrated valentines day was when my husband and I were dating (before he was my husband, of course). As we were students, we decided to make each other gifts. I was excited/nervous, as happens when a girl is doing something romantic like this for the first time.
My housemate helped me make fudge. Jonathan made me a paper rose, along with what we now call the ‘brown book’. The brown book is definitely more lovely than most other brown things. Inside there were tickets, flyers and little mementos of all the things we had done in our first four months of dating. As I read through it, we laughed about our awkward first date and the first time he met my family. My love for that book has grown since then: we try to regularly add to it.
Recently we sat down to update the brown book. To stick in pictures, draw and write about the adventures we’ve had. Simply taking time to look through our those pages, filled with good things that God has done, made me feel overwhelmed with thankfulness and love. I was floating on clouds for days.
It’s funny how looking at a book with a few bits of paper and some poor quality drawings could have that effect on my emotions. I was able to see our relationship in light of all the history we have together.
"The power of remembering can be used to help us with what’s happening today."
You know, that’s exactly how I think God intended things to be. Strangely enough, He created us with the ability to store and remember things, to recall emotions that we felt in the past. Sometimes remembering is painful, but I believe our ability to remember is a gift. The power of remembering can be used to help us with what’s happening today. When my car breaks down I remember that, when it was totalled before, God provided me with an even better car. This gives me hope. It also gives me perspective.
So, my question for you is this: where in life do you need some hope and perspective? God revealed to me once that when I’m failing to love, He will show me His love. When I am struggling to be faithful, He will show me His faithfulness. When I am lacking perspective, He will take me up to where He is and help me see things from His point of view.
Today, I want to help you along.
The Israelites Remember
As I said before, I think that God is a fan of remembering. In fact, I have evidence for this. God had the Israelites remembering very early in their history. Just before He freed them from Egypt, He made them eat a special meal: the Passover. This meal was to be eaten every year after they were freed, and is still eaten today. It's fascinating the way that the different elements of the Passover represent things to remember: bitter herbs reminding them of the bitterness of slavery, charoset salad reminding them of the bricks made with hay. Some elements are also prophetic, such as the lamb which signifies Jesus, our Sacrificial Lamb.
These traditions and feasts are set up all throughout the Bible. Ways for the Jewish people to remember that God is a good God, that He heals, that He has protected the generations before them, so He will do so again.
Jesus commemorated the Passover with his friends in Matthew 26. He told his followers to continue doing this to remember Him, so, as good Christ followers, we celebrate communion. Communion is a way for us to remember the events of the Easter weekend: Jesus’ death on the cross for us and His resurrection.
"Jesus was so aware of the joy set before Him... that He could choose thanks at the hardest time."
We call it a lot of different things, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, Holy Communion. It's a central part of our faith. Having grown up going to church, communion was just a ritual for me. The best part was eating leftover bread with my friends at the end of the service. But things have changed in the last few years. Jesus has revealed what a difference He made through His body, broken and His blood, poured out for me.
As recounted in Matthew 26, Jesus broke bread and gave thanks with His disciples. Just after this, He went to the Mount of Olives and was betrayed. It’s amazing to me that Jesus was able to be thankful right before His darkest moment. I would love to be able to have that kind of perspective in situations. Jesus was so aware of the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2 - that’s you and me, by the way), that He could choose thanks at the hardest time.
Here’s a key that I have learned through communion. If you need perspective, look into your history. Whether your history as you know it is rose-tinted, or too dark to look at, there is a deeper, longer history that you have with God. The part of your history where Jesus chose you. Where Jesus decided to choose thanks in His darkest moment because you were the joy that would come after.
"You have the keys to abundance of life because Jesus rose from the grave and beat death itself."
As believers, our imperfections, violations and immorality died with Christ. When He rose from the dead, we were raised to life and freedom with Him. It is the most beautiful exchange.
- You are defined as worthy because Jesus decided that you were worth dying for.
- You can be healed because Jesus was wounded.
- You are defined as pure because Jesus’ blood washes you clean.
- You have the keys to abundance of life because Jesus rose from the grave and beat death itself.
Let yourself dwell on those truths. As bread and wine (or juice and crackers, if you like it that way), pass your lips and through your system, let the truth of Easter sink in to your whole being. May it bring you hope, joy and perspective. May this defining moment in your history with God redefine your today.