“Well, no,” I had to admit. “I wasn’t born yet when it happened. But I’ve heard the story so many times, I feel like I remember it.”
It’s the same way regarding my husband’s mom, Sugar. She passed away years ago and I never got to meet her. Every year the family gathers round her grave for a time of remembrance. I’m beginning to feel like I did know her. I’ve heard so many stories about her delightful sense of humor (Her birthday was April Fool’s Day and she made the most of it!). She loved God and His Word, delighted in taking care of her family, and showered love on everyone she came in contact with.
I got to thinking about the concept of remembering the last time we had communion at church. It’s one thing for the disciples, who lived with Jesus, to remember Him when they shared the bread and wine. But how can we, who have never seen His face, “remember” Him? And yet, He left instructions for us to do just that:
“The Lord Jesus, on the night 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.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:23-26, also Luke 22:19-20).
I believe there are two ways that it is very possible for us to remember Jesus. First of all, like the stories from my family of origin, and Sugar's well-lived life, we remember Jesus through the accounts of the ones who were there. We have the narratives of Jesus’ life, ministry, miracles, death, and resurrection from the ones who felt the warmth of His touch, who knew the color of His eyes, and breathed in His breath. The more we read the Bible, the more we know the stories so well that we can feel we remember Him too.
Secondly, we remember Jesus from our own personal walk with Him. We may not know Him physically, but we know Him in Spirit. He is the One who died for us, forgave our sins when we asked Him to, who daily bears our burdens and talks to the Father on our behalf. The longer we know Jesus, the more memories we have of His work in our lives.
We remember incredible peace in the midst of turbulence. We remember how we had uncharacteristic patience, after praying for it. We remember receiving wisdom in seemingly impossible dilemmas. We remember being empowered in our moments of greatest weakness; that we were able to forgive people we once resented. We remember how our bodies became whole after sickness or injury.
Day after day, year after year, we are making memories. When we read the letters of those who knew Him on earth, and through our own experiences, we build on those memories. When we do, we honor the sacrifice He made to set us free from sin and hopelessness.
The next time you participate in communion, I hope you are able to whisper to the Lord, “I remember you” with a heart full of love and gratitude.