Through my stints leading Communion last year I got hooked up on the phrase ‘Do this in remembrance of Me’. I had always accepted (considering the context) that it meant remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection, but I found a new angle because questioning church and tradition is, apparently, my thing.
Everything that Jesus does and says is about moving forward, the language of discipleship is couched in movement, just consider ‘follow me’. And we talk about walking with Jesus; learning, teaching, preaching; we talk about prayer (active) rather than meditation (passive). Look at the amount of verbs just in Isaiah 1v17: “Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”.
Let’s look at Luke 9 v.58 – 62 (or Matthew 8 v.20 – 22) where Jesus talks about having no where to lay His head. What Jesus is talking about here is the never-ending nature of following Jesus (until we get to Heaven), that there is no rest from it, you don’t get a break from it when you’re tired. In the following verses Jesus reprimands people for asking to go back and say goodbye or bury someone before following Him. There is no going back only forward
Consider again the command ‘follow me’, do we take that as an action or more along the lines of following someone on social media, a passive activity? If discipleship is meant to be an active thing full of verbs, why do many of us (in the West, at least) do so little? Why is it that in almost every church I’ve ever been to there is a small group of people who do almost everything? Turn up to support almost everything?
I appreciate that people may not have the talents needed to run a sound desk, play an instrument or speak at the front, but in my church one of the things you can do is pass out the Communion, all you need is basic hand/eye coordination and yet the roster is so small you see the same people doing it again and again. Why don’t more people volunteer? It’s a serious question we have to be asking ourselves if the Church is ever to grow. If someone new does come to church then what do they learn? That you come and sit and receive while a group of special (holy? or at least holier?) people do the work. Is that what the church in Acts looked like? (Actually it probably did, people don’t change as much as we like to think). I’ve seen too many new, excited Christians become fellow pew-warmers, but it’s no surprise, is it when that’s the culture we cultivate.
Ask this simple question, how many non-churchgoers use your church each day? Is it open to the public or locked up unless there is a church event on? Is it part of the community or just in it? Is it a place to serve or is it a hidey-hole for us to gather away from the judging eyes of the Heathen?
Back to Communion and, yes I believe the phrase ‘do this in remembrance of me’ means the cross and resurrection, but if Jesus was a man (God) of action then that alone goes against the rest of His teaching. It seems completely out of place for Him to give a reflective command. What I have come to believe is that Jesus was asking the Apostles to remember was how He lived and what He said, culminating in His actions over Easter. In that light Communion is not a time of reflection, but a call to action that ties in better with the Great Commission.
I always took Communion like this: the bread was a chance to look back and ask for forgiveness for my failings (I see Christ’s death as the end of the old way of life/the Law) and then in taking the ‘wine’ I look forward and ask God to help me do better and guide me etc (the blood being a new covenant). I still think that’s a good way of doing it, but in thinking about this I am challenged to cast aside this ME-centric Communion and see Communion as a challenge; if I’m partaking in the death and resurrection of Jesus (and reaping the benefits of it) then I should be partaking in the rest of His life’s work too.
Jesus is a God of verbs, a God of action; a God who calls us to have no home here on Earth; no excuses as to why we can’t go with Him yet. If we want to be His disciples then we need more verbs in our faith. It’s time to put our hands to the plough, no looking back.
(As ever these musings are my own and don’t necessarily reflect BT nor Beanyman’s beliefs)
Agree? Disagree? Have your own thoughts? Let’s start a conversation in the comments. Woo.