Thursday, March 02, 2006

Worship and Remembrance

This past week I was reading at a freind's blog about the connection between worship and remembrance. At one point Phil makes the following statement.

I’m amazed at how we so quickly forget things. Throughout the Bible are numerous occasions where people were to remember what God had done and who he is. Take for example Nehemiah’s prayer 1:8 and again in 4:14. I keep coming back to these statements to remember for they are essential to our faith. How important it is for us to remember – remembering is part of our worship and important to our spiritual growth.

I'm pleased that Phil has made the connection because for me remembrance is a very large part about what worship is all about.

Communion, or The Lord's Supper, is the central point of worship for those of us who follow Christ. More so, I think, than Christmas or even Easter, because the Eucharest, as some call it, is what Jesus Himself ordained that we should do in remembrance of Him. He asked that when we remember Him we do so by partaking of the bread and the wine. He gave them to us as a mnemonic, as an aid to help us remember who Jesus was and is, the Christ, and what he did when he sacrificed Himself to free us from our sins.

I find myself wondering however, what was it the disciples remembered when they celebrated the Lord's Supper for the first time after Jesus' ascension into heaven. I wonder who among them was the first to break the bread as Jesus did; an act they so identified with Him it was how the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized the ressurrected Lord. I can picture each of them in turn, pausing for a moment, with a lump in their throats and tears in their eyes, staring off into the past as they put the bread in their mouths and touched the cup to their lips.

Did they think about His death and resurrection? Yes, I'm sure they did, but I imagine they also remembered a great many things not recorded in the gospels. They remembered the one-to-one conversations they had with Him as they walked along the road and when they withdrew to the quiet places. They remembered the laughs they shared as they told each other stories from their childhood. And they remembered meals of bread and wine shared in happier times when all seemed right with the world.

As they continued to celebrate the Lord's Supper with the early church I'm sure they recalled in detail the day they first met the master. They remembered the time He comforted them during a personal battle, embracing them as a brother, praying with and for them as they battled with their own doubts. Most of all I am sure they remembered a smile. A particular look He would give them that said, "Do not be afraid! I love you brother, and out of all Israel I have chosen you to be my disciple."

It is seldom the big and grandious things I remember during Communion. I think of the glory of heaven and the price that was paid for my sins, it is true. I would be remiss if I never thought of them. But more often than not, I find it is the personal events that I remember the most. I remember the way He helped me deal with the death of my father even when most of my Christian friends seemed to ignore me. I remember the Workman's Compensation check that showed up two weeks ahead of schedule on the very day my rent needed to be paid. I remember the joy and gratitude I felt for the gift He gave me - the day I watched Roberta walk down the aisle to become my wife. I remember a small child, not quite sure what to make of me on my first day helping out at Vacation Bible school, who could only think of one thing to say - "Jesus Loves You."

Worship is about remembering all the reasons we choose and continue to believe, because while the stories in the Bible are indeed the most important stories ever written, they do not end with the Book of Revelation. The 'Good News' is still being written today in the hearts and lives of every man, woman, and child who calls upon the name of Jesus. These stories too must be told. These stories too must be remembered.

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