Whenever I hear the words, “In remembrance,” that tells me that the person is no longer with us. Either it means they have died (the most likely) or they are no longer within our connections, usually due to a move or the like. One of the most striking examples of this is from my USAF officer training (which we call “camp”). At camp there was a marker to remember Prisoners of War/Missing in Action, or simply POW/MIA. Any time we passed it we were to salute and say, “You are not forgotten; lest we forget.” That has stuck with me. It hits home every time we approach Veteran’s Day, Flag Day, or Memorial Day.
The words, “In remembrance,” also strike me squarely in the heart whenever we participate in Communion (Lord’s Supper). We typically read the passage out of Luke which says:
And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. – Luke 22:15-20, ESV
Jesus knew what the following hours would bring. He was prepared to sacrifice Himself for our sins. And when He said, “In remembrance,” it actually has both meetings. Remember Him, because He offered His life for us, and remember Him, because His disciples would no longer walk with Him physically as they had in the past three years, though He would still be with them. This was a solemn moment. It was His last real opportunity to say, “Until we meet again.” He had poured out His life into theirs and now He was about to finish the pouring for those of us who would never walk with Him as these men had done.
“In remembrance” reminds me that Jesus willingly suffered the most meaningful death in history. He did so to redeem me, though I do not deserve it. He gave His life for me, His enemy, one totally opposed to Him by my own choice. He offered Himself in payment for my transgressions because I couldn’t cover them myself. And He called the bread His flesh and the wine His blood because that would be what it would literally take for Him to do all of this: He had to die. If He didn’t die, I could not be saved. That’s humbling. It’s the greatest gift that has ever been offered. And He offered it to me. That’s what “In remembrance” means to me.
These words challenge me. Christ died and rose again. In remembrance means I am called to die and rise again, too. My old ways, my old life, my old forms of thinking are to be left behind with that metaphorical death. His ways, His life, His form of thinking are to be part and parcel of my new life. If only it were that easy, right? But “In remembrance” challenges me to keep trying, to remain vigilant about trying to be more like my Savior who paid it all for me. And when I fall short, “In remembrance” tells me that His grace covers that mistake, that sin, too. There’s no time to be defeated and held back by that sin. Repent of it, learn from it, endeavor to do better because of my Savior, and continue to move forward is what “In remembrance” says to me. What do those words say to you?