This Do In Remembrance of Me
Every week, we partake of the bread and the cup. The practice of sharing in communion was instituted by Jesus the night before he was crucified and it is one of the most important rituals the church has held onto throughout its history. "Ritual" really isn't the right word, though. We don't take of communion because we are simply observing a tradition or even following a command. We regularly participate in communion because through it, we tangibly share in the powerful grace and reconciliation of Christ.
While we read of the Lord's Supper (another name for Communion) in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, a helpful summary statement of how the church is supposed to practice it is found in Paul's first letter to the church in the city of Corinth.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, 24 and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. - 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NET)
We take communion in order to "remember." When the bible speaks of remembering, it isn't referring to simply thinking a thought inside our heads. To remember well is to live in light of the truth Jesus of Nazareth. We faithful remember through actions. Actions are powerful and actions often lead to further action. This is the intent of communion. By "remembering" Jesus, we remember his sacrificial love in a powerful way and are "reminded" to show that same love to others. We "remember" Jesus is our lord and we "remember" we have dedicated our lives to following him. We also "remember" that in Christ, we have grace and the forgiveness of sins. By "remembering" through the emblems of the Lord's Supper, we reaffirm to each other we all belong to Jesus. We are reminded of our constant need of his mercy and grace.
The grace of Jesus is the great equalizer. In his presence, we are all on a level playing field. As Paul put it in his letter to the Galatians, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28 NET) No where is this more powerfully seen than when we all gather round the same table and partake of the same food - the life giving sustenance of Jesus himself. While the table we use in our worship isn't big enough for everyone to literally sit around, we keep it front and center in our gathering space to "remember" where we are and how we all belong at the table of our Lord.
We also take communion to "proclaim." We take take seriously our role as "ambassadors for Christ." We hope that by our words and actions, others can come to know Jesus as well. Even though we most often sit in quiet contemplation as we take the bread and the cup, the moment speaks volumes. Through it, we embrace the scandalous nature of the Son of God being executed on a Roman instrument of torture. Through it, we embrace the scandalous nature of forgiveness which leads to equality. Through it, we embrace the scandalous notion Jesus still reigns as king eternal, both the lion of Judah and lamb who was slain. When we take it, we say, "This is what we believe. This is who we are. This is our story." Every Sunday we do this and every Sunday we will continue to do this, sharing in this sacred moment and "remembering" and "proclaiming" our Lord Jesus Christ until he comes again.