A Day of Remembrance
Topic: Biblical Verse: 1 Corinthians 11:23–11:26
April 1, 2010
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
“A Day of Remembrance”
This is a day of remembrance. As the season of Lent ends this evening, and we enter into what are called the Three Days of Maundy Thursday/Good Friday/Easter Vigil and Day, we do a lot of remembering, calling to mind and giving thanks to God for all that Jesus has done for us. This evening, we remember how the Lord God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt by the blood of the lamb which marked the doorposts of their homes from the death of the firstborn, the tenth and final plague. As the Lord said to Moses: “This shall be a day of remembrance for you” ((see Exodus 12:1-14). This evening, we remember how in the Passover meal Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, and how he became the fulfillment of that Passover lamb by the shedding of his blood on the cross, and how he continues to give us his very Body and Blood under the bread and wine for the strengthening of our faith. Whenever we celebrate this sacred meal, the words of Jesus are repeated: “Do this in remembrance of me” (see 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). This evening, we remember how Jesus knelt down as a servant and washed the feet of his disciples, giving them – and us – an example of humble and loving servanthood. This evening, we remember how Jesus calls all of his disciples to love one another as he himself has loved us. It is in this Christ-like love for one another that everyone will know that we belong to Jesus. Tonight, and over the next three days, we do a lot of remembering. And so the title of the message for this Maundy Thursday evening is “A Day of Remembrance.” May the Lord’s rich blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word, for Jesus’ sake.
This isn’t the first time we’ve been asked to remember something during these forty days. Think back to how the Lenten season began, when a cross of ashes was traced on our foreheads and these words were spoken to each one of us: “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return” (see Genesis 3:19). And so the season of Lent ends as it began, with a call to remember. We begin by remembering that we are but dust and ashes; we end by remembering Jesus. These are like two bookends on either side of the 40-day Lenten season. We are called to remember that we are dust, but we cannot stop there! We must go on to remember Jesus, and his call to eat his Body and drink his Blood, receiving that new life which he alone can give. The cross of ashes calls us to remember that our sin separates us from God and from one another. It is a call to remember and repent; to return to the Lord our God who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Our remembering must take us beyond repentance, beyond the somber Lenten season, to something greater. Our remembering that takes us through repentance must then lead us to rejoicing. Whenever we gather around the altar of the Lord and receive the gifts of Christ’s true Body and Blood, another cross is traced – a cross of blessing after we have communed: “Now may this true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and keep you in true faith to life everlasting.” Having received these gifts of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation in Jesus, we are sent on our way rejoicing.
Why this emphasis on remembering? Because we are so prone to forget. It’s like that herbal supplement, Ginkgo biloba, which many people take to enhance memory. As many studies have shown, it really does help do this, but you have to remember to take it. We know and believe that Jesus suffered, died, and rose again for our salvation, but we get so caught up in the day-to-day stuff of life that we forget this life-giving truth. We forget, and we live as if it all depends on us, rather than God. This is a call for all of us to remember.
The word “remember” comes from two Latin words: re, meaning “again,” and memorare, meaning “bring to mind.” So the meaning is literally, “to bring to mind again.” And that is what we do in these Three Days – bring to mind again all that Jesus has done for us. But maybe there is another meaning here for this word “remember.” A member is a part that belongs to a group; an individual belonging to a body. Our sin – the evil we do and the good we fail to do – separates us, disconnects us, from God and from one another. In the Lord’s Supper, we are re-membered as individual members of the Body of Christ, reconnected to our Lord and to our brothers and sisters. This is a day of remembrance, and a day of being re-membered in Jesus, as he tells us: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
And so on this Maundy Thursday evening, we remember, we repent, and we rejoice in all that Jesus has done for us. As we come to his table, we will have the rich blessing of being re-membered to him and to one another. Thanks be to God. Amen.