When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:14-19, NIV)
Somewhere, deeply coded in our DNA, is the innate desire to look back and remember people, places, and events that served some purpose or made some impact in our lives. We raise monuments to fallen heroes, create movies about great historical moments, and mark our calendars to ensure we remember specific dates. Even the most remote people groups who have never codified their languages into written form have a tradition of oral history designed to pass memories down from generation to generation. You need only to speak dates such as December 7th or September 11th to evoke strong feelings in people as they vividly recall what they were doing when some traumatic event faced them and their world changed. Yes, we are a people who not only love to remember ... we must remember.
It dawned on me a few weeks back that we sometimes get our priorities messed up in terms of what we choose to remember and how we go about celebrating that. My pastor was giving a very simple message on that communion Sunday and I had been tapped to help serve since vacation had depleted the ranks of others. I thought about the words I had seen carved in every communion table I had ever seen in my life. And then I thought about what Sam was saying.
Our call to remembrance is a call to return to the Cross. It is a call to look back to the core of our faith and see Christ crucified and to remember that He did this for me in the most personal sense. In so many churches, we have lambasted the Catholics and others for the mystic meanings and events they have attached to communion. We have been clear to call it out as "only symbolic". Yet we carve the words in our communion tables and have the service once a month without really going back and remembering what it is all about. Instead of a clear, strong connection to the crucified Christ, it becomes no less of a ritual than we accuse others of making it. And the remembrance is somehow lost, or at least takes on a "fuzzy" quality.
The call to remember the Cross is to be a reminder of living under its shadow every day of our lives. It is a call to daily take up our own cross and thank the One who first did so in order to provide us life as it was truly meant to be lived. We take up our cross and our communion elements in remembrance of who He is and to participate in what He did on our behalf. We remember so that we will continually be people of the Cross.
In the Cross, we find the ultimate convergence of justice, holiness, punishment, the Law, and God's incredible love for us. As we remember what Christ did in fulfilling what we could never accomplish, we see Him providing this gateway to life. We remember who God is and reflect on His timeless story of redemption. We remember the Cross because of all these things and because it is the pivotal point in the Story.
The Crooked Path begins at the foot of the Cross, passes through the Empty Tomb, and winds through our lives leading to the very feet of the Savior. As I daily pick up my cross - whatever that may be - and follow the way He has set before me, I need to call to remembrance all He has provided. As a people given to memorials, there is none greater than the one established to recall the Greatest Gift that has ever been offered. We must remember that we are people of the Cross and walk forward in faith, secure in the One who gave it all up. Now that's a memory worth keeping!
- What are your memorials made to remember? Are they deep memories of things that made a significant impact?
- When you come to the table of communion with your Christ, what comes to your mind? Is it a remembrance of the magnitude of what He did, or has it become just another ritual to go through?
- Are you truly living out the life of a "person of the Cross"? If not, what keeps you from taking up the cross He has given you and following His lead? How would others view you?