A man was on a business trip, when he realized he had forgotten his wife’s birthday the day before. Frantic and wanting to avoid her disappointment, he went to the jewelry department in a very expensive store.
Open and honest he said, “I missed my wife’s birthday yesterday. I need something that says I love you, so that way she will forget that I missed her birthday.” The woman behind the counter smiled and said, “I’m sorry sir, but we don’t sell anything as expensive as what you’re going to need.”
In 1953, singer Cecil Allen Null wrote a song called, “I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know”. I must admit, I know how he feels. The truth is, I am not alone, we all forget. In Fact,
research on forgetting shows that within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50 percent of the information you share. Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70 percent of new information, and within a week, forgetting claims an average of 90 percent of it. By the end of a month, 98% of the information is lost, unless we spend time refreshing ourselves.
Neurologist and researcher, Dr Karen Bolla, at John’s Hopkins Bloomington School of Health lists the top three things most people forget; #3 – numbers, like phone numbers and dates; #2 – Where something is, like your keys or cell phone; and #1 – names.
That is why the Bible is continually instructing us not to forget what is most important. Over 250 times, the people of God are told to remember and only about 65 times are we told to forget.
God tell us to remember our covenants; remember the Sabbath to keep it holy; to remember Him and His mercy; remember the people and the land; remember God’s laws and commands; remember special moments and events (like the Passover); Remember you were slaves and outcasts; remember His wonders and miracles,…and the list goes on.
2 Timothy 2:8 reads, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my Gospel.”
Sometimes when we read the Old Testament stories, we get frustrated with the Israelites (at least I do). God rescues them and later, they forget about God and he must rescue them all over again. God rescues the Israelites from Egypt, only to have them forget and later create a golden calf to worship.
After Moses and Joshua led them to the Promised Land and died, in Judges 2:10, we read in part, “Another generation grew up after them, who did not know the Lord or the work he had done for Israel.”
To help them remember, God instructs the people to remember and celebrate covenants (agreements between God and his people); to have annual festivals; to recite God’s word often; and to build Ebenezer’s (Monuments to remember important events). Yet they still forget.
Eventually, God makes it super simple, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
“Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
Do you remember the conversation between Jesus and the teachers of the Law about forgetting? It is found in Matthew 22:36-40. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” They were saying this to test him and were implying that there were too many laws to remember. In other words, pick one and tell us which one is the most important to remember?
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So, if you follow these two, you won’t break any of the original Ten Commandments.
2 Equals 10! Jesus simplified the laws to make it easier for us to remember.
Wise King Solomon understood what The Lord had in mind and even copied his intent when he wrote, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:1-6)
Whenever Jesus wanted his disciples to listen carefully, he made a special emphasis by telling them to remember. Don’t forget these words or actions. In fact, do whatever it takes not to forget. Which leads us into our second scriptural passage today.
“When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you, before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again – until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
“And he took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:14-20)
Today we call this practice of taking bread and juice or wine a sacrament. And it is often referred to as Holy Communion or taking the Eucharist. While they are closely related, there are some differences in the words. Eucharist in Greek means thanksgiving, it is a noun. It literally means giving thanks for the body and blood of Jesus. While Communion is a verb and it means in fellowship with others. It is a shared experience.
There has also been a lot of disagreement over what Jesus meant when he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Was he merely meaning we ‘memorialize him’ or is something else going on?
The Catholic Church believes the bread and juice literally become His real body and blood, where most protestants believe Jesus meant this symbolically. Yet most of us believe there is something deeper in the works.
We believe there are three aspects at work in this sacrament that relates to the past, present and future. When Jesus said do this in remembrance of me, he was saying, “Do this so you don’t forget”! The question is, what is it that we are not to forget?
First, we are to remember this Last Supper in the same way the Jews remember the Passover feast. In this sense, it is like a memorial, as we reflect on past actions and celebrate his action and love. We remember how Jesus shed his blood and died, like a lamb to the slaughter, to take away the sins of the world. Then, how he rose back to life at the resurrection.
Second, we should reflect on how this impacts us today. The Christian life is not merely the remembrance of a historical Christ in the past, but it is the present participation in a living Christ, who is present with us now. We are to live in and through Him.
He is our model and our hope. Then, through the power of the Holy Spirit we are transformed each day, more into his likeness, so his will, will become ours.
Third, there is prophecy and future fulfillment in his words and action. Jesus said, “For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Jesus is predicting His second coming. It is the time we will all feast at his heavenly banquet. So, there is joy and anticipation for us.
For us, these are three separate events. One in the past, one now, and one to come, but in Jesus’ perspective, time no longer exists. So, all three things take place at once. They overlap. So, while we are remembering what Jesus did, we are being transformed and healed and sharing the communion with all of those throughout time and in heaven. It all comes together in one moment. Think about that for a while!
So, when we take communion, we remember, and we are changed. The real presence of God is with us, and we truly receive this grace, mercy, and love.
Because of these three aspects, John Wesley would get so excited about communion, he would seek to take it every day.
As we take communion today, remember his actions in the past, reflect on how his sacrifice is changing you now, and celebrate all that is to happen when He returns. That is the true circle of life!
Your assignment is…to create your own Ebenezer or artwork to help you remember what Jesus did. You can do this by setting up your own stone memorial, creating some art to put up where you will see it often, or keeping a list to reflect over, on your refrigerator. When you see it; confess, give thanks, and celebrate the love of God through Christ Jesus.
May you be so motivated,
“and all God’s People said, Amen”