On the second Sunday of each month we hear these words from I Corinthians 11, “The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Very clearly the Lord’s Supper is a means for us to remember Jesus.
This led me to think of all the different methods we use to remember – Post-It notes on a mirror, notations on the family calendar, magnet-attached lists on a fridge door, pop-up reminders on our computer screens – but one of the more interesting methods is a string tied to a finger. This was an old way for people to remember an important task, date or event. There are many theories about where this idea originated but I think the theory that intrigues me most is the one connected to Scripture. In Numbers 15 we read these instructions given to Moses by God,
“Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at so that you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to our God.” (Numbers 15:38-40)
The blue cord, which people would often twirl around their fingers, served as a memory trigger for the people of Israel. So the table of our Lord serves as a memory trigger for you and for me. As we share in communion we are prompted to remember that Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for our sin. The table is situated front and center of our sanctuary so that we don’t forget that it is only by Jesus’ sacrifice that we are made right with God.
But even more, Jesus said, “DO this in remembrance of me.” The experts tell us that doing helps make an event concrete in our minds. Neuropsychologists call this phenomenon neuroplasticity, the brain’s amazing ability to create new avenues of association, thought and memory based partly on what we do. So the people of Israel were not only to look at the tassels but they were to “make the tassels on the corners of their garments.” They were to participate. So we are called to participate in this table, not just look at it. We break the bread and it reminds us that Christ’s body was broken for you and for me. We drink the cup and it reminds us that Jesus is to be in our lives, the center of our lives. Very clearly doing leads to hearing and remembering.
One last truth – to help us remember we are to share the bread and the cup together. Jesus shared the bread and cup with the 12. We share it as a congregation, a body of believers. It is an act that is for everyone in the church, applicable to every believer. We aren’t alone in this meal, we share it with one another as our Lord shares it with us. Joining with others helps us remember.
It could be said that our Lord gave us a “mindstring” when he gave us the Lord’s Supper. He gave it to us so that, like the ancient people of Israel, we would not “prostitute ourselves by going after the lusts of our own hearts and eyes” but remember that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and Lord. May we come to the table on Sunday with a desire to remember the centrality of our Lord Jesus Christ in our lives and church.
With thanksgiving for you, Tom.