The words, "Do this in remembrance of me," are well known to everyone. The words are carved into the front of Communion tables across the face of this planet. The words are quoted and sung. They're mentioned twice in this passage of Scripture, where Paul rehearses to the Corinthians the practice of the Lord's Table, a practice established by Jesus on the night before he was crucified. The practice of the Lord's Table, or the Lord's Supper, or Communion, is referred to in Catholic tradition as the Mass, or as the Eucharist in other traditions.
It amazes me that religion, when given enough time, is able to squeeze the life out of reality. God reveals his grace and power. Human institution and tradition can cage it, box it up, or drive it back into the recesses of ritual, where the raw power and the precious sweetness of what the Lord intended are submerged in the incrustations of human ideas and traditionalized practices.
We face an important question in asking ourselves what Jesus wanted us to remember. He said, "This is my body, broken for you. This is my blood that is shed for you." He wants us to remember his body and his blood. What else should we remember? There are two avenues we can pursue. We can discuss, on the one hand, whether Jesus wanted us to remember the process of his dying, or, on the other hand, the purpose of his dying.
Remember the process
Much of the church is preoccupied with the process of his death. That is important, for it was his dying that released the fulfilling possibilities in his purpose for dying. Human traditions can become incredibly death dealing, and given enough time they become a legalistic whip used to control people.
Some parts of the church won't allow people to partake ...
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Jack Hayford is chancellor of The King's College and Seminary, Van Nuys, California, founding pastor of The Church on the Way, and former president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. He is author of Rebuilding the Real You (Charisma House).