And he (Jesus) 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 22:19
Within the space of a week our nation experiences two significant days of remembrance. On Memorial Day we honor those who gave their lives in service for their country. Today, we remember the loss of life and the sacrifice of many on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, compelling the USA to enter World War II. Eighty years is a lifetime ago! Veterans of that war have worried that the memory of the significance of that War might be lost. The Jewish community fears that the horror of the holocaust will be minimized and forgotten as time passes.
Memory is an important, yet fragile component of our human make-up. We mark and celebrate significant events like birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day to honor the people we love, if we remember! I have heard so many stories of people forgetting a “special” day in the lives of their spouse or family member. To be forgotten or feel forgotten can be a significant wound to our self-esteem. In my family I was all too consistently late in sending my mother and brother Stephen a birthday card because I just kept forgetting the specific day of their January birthdays. A “belated” card or present was somewhat bitter for them. None of us likes to be an afterthought!
The reality of human forgetfulness even impacts our faith and world view. After all that God did to rescue the people of Israel from slavery there was concern that the people would forget about God mercy and blessings! Feasts and festivals like “Passover” were implemented as a way for people to remember what God has done. Deuteronomy 8:11 brought the admonition, “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and statues which I command you today.”
A compelling reason for daily devotions and weekly corporate/community worship is the tendency of humans to forget. In the hectic rush of our lives, we can forget whose we are and lose the identity of who we are. Worship gathers us in week after week to remind us that we are the people of God; our identity is “Christ-Follower.” For the early church, celebrating communion, remembering the Last Supper was primary in worship. 1 Corinthians 11:25 reminds us of Jesus’ words, “Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” In the early apostolic community, daily worship and communion was essential. John Wesley received communion often and said, “It is the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord’s Super as often as he can” (Sermon 101). Hebrews 10:25 admonishes the early church to not give up meeting together! There is something about corporate memory and encouragement that is essential.
Let us remember and give thanks this day for all that God has done. Let us remember the events of history that have shaped our lives and given us the freedom we enjoy today. Remember family and friends and the significant markings of life from birthdays to graduation day! Let us remember what God has done for us and in us through Christ Jesus. Remember and give thanks!
Gracious God, thank you for not forgetting us! Thank you for your promise to never leave us or forsake us. Remind us day by day of your mercies and the love that will not let us go. Amen.