More than a Memory

communion

Matthew 26:27-28 “Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it all of you. This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”

Do you own a collection of old family videos on VHS? Do you have videos of family events stored on DVD, or thumb drives, or some other digital format? We had a camcorder for a number of years, but I didn’t remember to bring it along as often as I should. And I found that I didn’t like watching life’s major events through a viewfinder. I would rather see things happen live. We rarely watched the tapes we have made of our family anyway. I never even watched my wedding video.

The idea of reliving some of those times, however, hasn’t lost its appeal. When I was growing up my dad used to drag out the slides of family vacations once a year or so, and he never had to twist our arms to get us to watch them.

Slides and videos don’t actually recreate our happy past, though. What’s done is done. But sometimes they do extend the enjoyment we get from life’s milestones, or favorite vacations, or best performances. And they make it possible to share them with friends or grandparents who weren’t there to see it when it happened.

There were no video tapes running or cameras flashing on Golgotha on Good Friday. Christ died for sins once for all. What’s done is done. We can’t relive, or rather Jesus won’t relive, the central event of the Christian faith, and for that we can be thankful.

But in the body and blood of his Supper our Savior does extend our enjoyment of the blessings that flow from his crucifixion and death. This is more than just a video replay of happy feelings. Jesus calls it his “blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” This is a covenant, a testament, a promise from him. Jesus does more than take our minds back to Golgotha in memory. Under the bread and wine he has contained the real forgiveness of our sins that his genuine body and blood bring forward from the cross to us. For those precious moments before his altar we can smell and taste and feel the unconditional love of God, no less present than it was when he spilled his blood two thousand years ago.

Sin occupies entirely too much of our time and attention. When we think we are having a good day, we need to look no farther than our thought life to realize how constant this companion has been.

Here and there God’s spoken Word breaks into this enduring affliction with its promise of grace. But in the Lord’s Supper God’s forgiving love blessedly lingers and loiters on our lips and mouth, and we have time to savor the grace that makes us his own.

For me, one of the highlights of attending a pastors’ conference is singing a communion hymn. At home I’m usually caught up in the distribution on Sundays, making sure I don’t drop a wafer, helping communicants get their cups out of the tray without spilling. Rarely do I get to sing the truths that make this Supper so special. Martin Luther once said, “This sacrament is the gospel.” May we find it to be so, too.

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