read part 1 here
For so many among us,”remembering” can be painful. Whether it is a painted past filled with abuse or neglect or shame- remembering can be a deeply emotional experience.
But there can be a redemptive and joyful aspect of remembrance as well. The presence of negative memories is all too common, but even then there are at least small moments of joy we can recall. Maybe it was the times you and your siblings visited your grandparents throughout the Summer, or the smell of your mother’s cooking over the holidays. For many who have painful experiences in their past, these hope-filled memories are even more significant to hold on to recall.
Paul was converted and made an apostle of Christ, meaning that even though he was not in the physical presence of the ministry of Jesus, Paul’s salvation brought about all of the same authority that those who were physically with him had(see Galatians 1). In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Paul(through his apostolic authority) recalls the night of the Last Supper.
Jesus is sitting with his disciples and walks them through this new covenant meal. As they partake in these elements(the bread and wine), Jesus commands his disciples to remember.
The use of the word “remember” in these verses provokes us to not only recall the mere event, but the emotion and detail of it. As human beings, we know this feeling well. Recalling an event is one thing, but with a little more energy we can almost remember the smells, the sounds, and the air from that event. We can remember the significance of the given moment.
Jesus is saying here to remember his body that was broken and beaten for us. To remember the blood that was spilled for us. That when we come together as the local church, we recall and embrace the deity of Christ and his sacrifice. We recall and embrace that Jesus is the most important human being that ever lived and his death the most significant.
This remembrance brings about something else Christ commanded of us, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26 ESV) Remembering leads to proclaiming.
We are unable to proclaim something without the knowledge of that thing. We proclaim what we are familiar with and what we know for ourselves. This says something also about who partakes in this meal:
This is a meal for believers.
Though the Lord’s Supper is an event reserved for those who are able to proclaim and remember Christ’s sacrifice for ourselves, we believe communion also to be an evangelistic opportunity. You see, in order to partake, you must be at the table. But, there is still more room at the table. There may(and should) be unbelievers in our midst. In that moment, we plead and proclaim to unbelievers what Christ has done and offer them the invitation to make the same proclamation. Evangelism should be a normal part of communion in the gathering.
The Shadow of Eternity
Communion is not only an opportunity to remember and proclaim what has been done for us in the death of Christ, but a way to proclaim what God has promised us. If you have ever taken these elements in a worship gathering, you know that they don’t to “fill” us. After the service, we head home for a meal that is a bit more substantial. In a way, there is a ceiling to our worship when we commune. We leave wanting more. We partake and worship wanting more. There is still the lingering effect of our sin and these mortal bodies. Communion causes us to remember and proclaim, but also serves a foreshadowing of the meal we will one day share with Christ and the Church in eternity.