(Consider 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; 15:1-8)
“Do this in remembrance of me.”
Like many people, my family attended church virtually for a while over the last few years. During this time, our congregation would hold communion periodically and allow people to pick up the elements at our church building during set hours. Well, on Easter, we missed the pickup time and found ourselves without the appropriate elements for communion but still wanted to participate in the practice virtually with our church body.
So, we did what we’ve become so good at as parents: we improvised. We used what was on hand, which–during quarantine–was lemonade and hot dog buns.
My family has been a part of various churches over the years, finding different congregations that met our needs during different times of our lives. One of our pastors had been raised in a church that he felt was too ritualistic in general, and this included communion. So we held communion periodically rather than regularly. At the next church we attended, we had communion on a weekly basis in order to have more regular reminders of Jesus’s sacrifice.
What is important is why we take communion and the heart with which we approach it.
1 Corinthians 11:23-24 says, “that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” We no longer need the sacrificial rituals of the Old Testament because of the final and complete nature of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Twice in these verses, we are told to “do this in remembrance of me.” This is foundational to our faith, but can nonetheless be forgotten in the daily grind of our lives. And sometimes, being our own worst critics, we can forget that we are worthy of this sacrifice. So, whether it is done on a weekly basis or not, it is good to have that very basic reminder in our lives. For so many reasons, we need periodic reminders, and Jesus knew that. Communion is such a beautiful time to stop and take a moment to remember this.
What is required of us? First, the passage tells us, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” In addition to remembering Jesus, we are told to examine ourselves. This periodic reminder to look inward before this remembrance almost seems counter-cultural to our society today, which is full of distractions every moment. But checking ourselves is fundamental to experiencing the full cleansing nature of communion.
1 Corinthians 15:26 says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” Through the taking of communion, we are proclaiming Jesus’s death and sacrifice. And, remembering him on a regular basis helps us to continuously proclaim this to those in our circle. Earlier in this chapter in 1 Corinthians, we are told to “hold fast to the word” (15:2). This language implies that we need a reminder to not forget these truths, as the world or those around us might encourage us to do.
Whether we’re using wafers or holy hot dog buns, let us remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us and take some time to reflect on what this means to us this Lenten season.
Dear Jesus, this Lenten season, help us to remember and truly understand the sacrifice you made for us. Help us hold fast to these truths and proclaim your death through communion and as we go about our daily lives.
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