“Do this in remembrance of me.” Throughout the world, across denominations. There is plenty that divides us in the body of Christ. We have different understandings and theological posturings of what happens during Communion. This we hold in common:
Do this in Remembrance of Me.
Throughout this season of Lent, we have been pausing. On this holy night, we pause to remember. Jesus gathered his friends and those who had been following him for the Passover feast. They gathered in the Upper that had been prepared. The Passover Feast in full of remembrance and retelling of the narrative of the Exodus and God’s faithfulness to God’s people. The ritual act includes the asking of questions and the telling of stories. It involves those present as well as speculating about how God will be present and involved in what is yet to be.
So, Jesus, and the twelve disciples, the women who had been traveling with them, children running around, who had always been a part of the traveling band were gathered around the table. Jesus told the stories of God’s faithfulness because they needed to remember. Jesus knew that as even that night wore they would need to hang onto those stories like safety blanket. They would need a promises and reminders of God’s steadfast love. God has been with us, God is with us, and God will always be with us.
You and I have learned that our brains make some interesting associations. When you park your car in one of those large parking lots, many of us will look up at the letter or the color and make a rhyme or a word or something or help us remember. Some people will even take a picture with their phone. Something to help us remember. The association of two different ideas, helps us to remember the more important idea, in this case, where we parked, so that we can get home!
Neuroscience has since done the research the process of remembering. The process involves neurons in one area of the brain that change their behavior as soon as someone associates a particular person with a specific place. (1) This process of creating the pathways is part of continuing elasticity of our brains. We play a part in exercising this elasticity. We do this not only when we seek to remember where we parked the car, but also, when we tell the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the liturgy of Communion, Anamnesis is the communal act in which together we remind ourselves of the faithfulness of God. Together, we remind ourselves that on the night in which Jesus gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to God, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said do this in remembrance of me. We remind ourselves as a community, that when the supper was over, in a similar way, Jesus took the cup, gave thanks to God, blessed it, and said drink from it all of you, and do this in remembrance of me.
But memory is more than repetition. Educators have learned that their students need more than repetition to master their skills and truly comprehend. Our faith is merely head knowledge when we only repeat the words. Jesus invited disciples of long ago and us today into relationships of life transformation. Neuroscience has shown you can repeat locations,but you will lose the information, unless the neuropathways are developed. We hear the call again on the Maundy Thursday to pause and re-member our as part of the body of Christ.
This body of Christ is global and universal. This body of Christ remembers. We join Jesus in the Upper Room remembering this is available to everyone. Those who are young and those who are aging. Those who are affluent and those who struggle every day to make ends meet. Those who can remember easily and those who feel as those memory works against them. Those whose bodies are kind to them and those whose bodies need extra care. In all that we can imagine division, Jesus brought healing and re-membering the body.
This extravagance and political engagement led Jesus towards his death. Let us pause having re-member in the liturgy and re-member in prayer. As the body, Jesus calls us to stay awake for a while and pray as we re-member together.
This is the Gospel of Lord, Jesus Christ, thanks be to God, Amen.