We all like symbols. We have wedding rings which symbolize our lifetime commitment of marriage. Stores and various brands have symbols to enhance their marketing strategy (did you know that Nike was the Greek goddess of victory?). And, some people have tattoos that symbolize various meaningful aspects of their lives. Well, not all tattoos are meaningful, I guess. I once met a waitress once that had a colored cupcake tattoo on her forearm. When I asked about its significance, she said “well, I kind of regret it – I have a friend who owns a tattoo parlor and it was free.” I thought, Note to self - think carefully about any tattoo I may get. Anyway, back to the point: We typically use symbols to direct our memory back to a significant event. But, that’s not all symbols do. The memory the symbol triggers serves to guide us into the future. We want to be reminded of something in the past and use that memory as a basis for future action.
That’s what Jesus was doing with Communion.
Before Jesus left earth, he gave his disciples a meaningful symbol, and it was not a tattoo. He led his disciples through a meaningful symbolic act of communion. On the very night that Jesus was betrayed, he gathered his disciples and gave them a symbol in the bread and wine to remember his life, work, death and resurrection - all which pointed to the New Covenant. Paul wrote, “when he had given thanks, he broke the bread, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11).
But, what does it mean to “remember”?
It does mean don’t forget, but it also means to humbly move forward in awe and action based on that which we are recalling to mind. So, as we partake of communion we are reminded of the life, work, death and resurrection of Jesus, and his promise to return, and then we factor that into how we live today. We respond to his life and his love with awe and action, with wonder and worship. In scripture, worship is never disconnected from a response of action. Neither is the symbol of communion.
So, what do tattoos and communion have in common? They are both symbols that help us look backwards in order to look forward.
So, communion is all about “remembering” the life, work, death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a meaningful symbol that is to trigger a response of humility, awe and action, wonder and worship among us.
Do that in remembrance of Jesus.