1 Corinthians 11:23-26
“Do This to Remember Me”
Heather Pockett took some photos last Sunday during the Palm Sunday Parade at First Church. They were absolutely adorable photos of her little son Lucas dragging his palm branch down the aisle – falling behind the crowd of older children, but participating enthusiastically in the celebration. Those photos will help Heather to remember what was a special moment in Lucas’ young life, and she’ll undoubtedly share them with family and friends, and eventually an older Lucas will get a glimpse of himself as a young boy.
We use photos a lot to capture and later remember special moments in our lives. And now that they are so easy to take and to share, many of us have thousands and thousands of them stored on our computers, or in the cloud, or posted on Facebook where they pop up on the anniversaries of their posting as “memories” of times past.
However, neither Jesus’ earliest disciples, nor disciples today, have any photos of that holy meal that they shared together on the night that Jesus’ was arrested. If it had been our Last Supper with someone important to us, I’m sure we would have been taking selfies or even getting everyone organized to pose for a group picture. But we don’t have any photos of that remarkable gathering.
Sure, there are artists’ depictions, including the famous one by Leonardo da Vinci with everyone sitting on the same side of the table, as well as others that imagine what it might have looked like as Jesus’ washed his disciples’ feet and then broke the bread and passed the cup at one final meal with his friends.
Likewise, we have no photos to document Jesus’ adventure in the wilderness and the challenges he faced there. Not even his mother was taking pictures when he preached in the synagogue of his hometown and announced his mission. Though the crowds swarmed around Jesus looking for healing and help, no one took out their selfie-sticks to capture the moment when he touched them, or looked at them in the eye with such love, or picked up their child and sat them on his knee.
And all the wonders that the disciples witnessed – things like the amazing catches of fish, the miraculous feeding of the crowds, and the countless times when his hands brought healing from diseases in body or in mind – none of that was recorded in photos to remember later.
But pictures are not the only way that we remember important things. Consider for a moment the many things that cause your memories to come flooding back.
My husband touches the gold ring on my left hand, and I feel myself standing with him in the church once again, making my vows with tears in my eyes.
The smell of bread baking or a favourite meal cooking, and you see your mother or grandmother in the kitchen once again, lovingly preparing something special for your family.
A song comes on the radio, and you hear the voices of your children once again, singing along in the back seat of the car on one of those family road trips.
You walk down the aisle of the church, waving a palm branch in your hand and singing, and you feel like a child again – memories of long-ago parades in this church or another come to the surface as you take the steps towards Jerusalem, following Jesus into his final week.
Although Jesus didn’t put together any photo albums for his friends to take out and remember him by after his death and resurrection, he did implore them to remember him. Knowing that it would be the last meal he would share with his followers in person, he paused after the blessing and invited them to really pay attention to the meaning of that precious moment together.
As he broke the bread, he explained that the bread was like his body that would soon be broken too, and would be given for the life of the world. And then he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
A moment later, he took a cup of wine and compared it to his blood, poured out in love for all. And again he said, “Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Rather than a photo, the disciples received the gift of a meal – a ritual that they would repeat together throughout their lives, and that they would teach to their children and their children’s children, and all who wanted to follow Jesus too. Every time we eat the bread and drink the cup, we remember him.
But this remembering that we do is not just an image on a screen, a thought in the mind, or even a feeling in the heart. When we come together in communities of hospitality and love to break the bread and share the cup, we re-member Jesus. We give him a body once again in the world. Each of us becomes a member of Christ’s body today, and together we re-member him. We embody his presence in our sharing, in our serving, in our receiving, and in our loving one another.
He asks us to do it by washing one another’s feet too, by serving one another in love in many and various ways. When we do these things, Christ is present in us, and between us, and we re-member him in that way also – through the humility that allows us to stoop down and serve one another in love.
Tonight, I’ll invite you to come up and sit around the table together. Please allow me to serve you, as Jesus served his friends so long ago. As you remember Jesus this night, remember that he welcomes you, remember that he loves you, remember that he serves you in love and gives his whole life for you.
And when you go out tonight, and in the days ahead, re-member Jesus in the world.