#rememberme

November 5, 2016

#rememberme.
In 2013 the British National Army Museum voted it “Britain’s
Greatest Battle”.  If you are
thinking perhaps “D-Day and Normandy” you’re close, that placed second.  Or maybe you drifted back further to the
Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Waterloo placed third.
Most of us would be hard pressed to come up with the correct
answer and that is unfortunate.   On the
location of the battle there is a monument which contains these words, “When you go home tell them of us and say for your
tomorrow we gave our today.”
And most of us don’t even know that it happened, the world
has forgotten.
It happened in Kohima, a town in Northeast India, in the
spring of 1944.  The Japanese had
launched an offensive called the “U Go offensive” with the ultimate goal of
preventing the British from liberating Burma.  
And the British decided that the Japanese forces would not get past
Kohima. 
And so on April 5 1944 12,000 Japanese troops began their
offensive, defending Kohima were 1,500 British troops under the command of
Colonel Hugh Richards.
For the next 64 days the Japanese hammered the British in
what some refer to as the “Stalingrad of the East”.   And after 64 days the Japanese retreated, one
Japanese war correspondent, Shizuo Maruyama,
wrote  “We
had no ammunition, no clothes, no food, no guns. At Kohima, we were starved and
then crushed.”
Many feel that the battle of Kohima was a
turning point in the war in the pacific. 
And yet for many it is now an non-event. 
Human memory is such a fragile thing.
This fall my preaching theme has been
“Hashtag This” and we’ve been looking at various words and phrases in the bible
that would probably have warranted a Hashtag if anyone had been tweeting or
posting on Facebook 2000 years ago.
Today we are going to the story of the last
supper which was read for you earlier, and in particular we are going to stop
for a while on #rememberme.
I think it’s fitting that Remembrance Sunday falls on a
Communion Sunday but are times to remember. 
The last supper is chronicled in the 3
synoptic Gospels, that
is Matthew, Mark and Luke.  John mentions
the foot washing but doesn’t deal with the meal itself.  And then Paul picks up the story in 1
Corinthians, in the account that we read earlier.  I always find it interesting that Paul starts
his account with these words.  1
Corinthians 11:23
 For I pass on to you what I received from
the Lord himself. Things that make me go hmmmmmm.
And there are those who would tell us that
Paul simply received this in some form of revelation from Jesus, maybe a dream
or a vision.  But what it says is this 1 Corinthians 11:23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord
himself. 
Doesn’t say how he received it.  Hmmmmmmm.
Later in his story, Paul tells us that he
received some of his training as a Pharisee in Jerusalem, he was close to the
same age of Jesus, and he belonged to the religious groups that brought charges
against Jesus. So I wonder, now understand that this is just speculation,
Denn’s mind doing what Denn’s mind does. 
I wonder if the many stories that Luke
told, in his Gospel, of Jesus meeting and debating with the Pharisees came from
a young eye witness named Saul?  Or maybe
one of the many stories that are recorded where Jesus speaks with an unnamed
“expert in religious law”, if the person Jesus was talking to might have been
named Saul who would later change his name to Paul.   Just wondering.
I wonder if Saul may have met Jesus during
his ministry years and rejected his invitation to follow him?  I wonder if maybe he heard him speak of the
last supper in post resurrection conversations? 
But regardless of how Jesus told Paul, we
have in this account Jesus’ perspective of what happened that night.
So why did Jesus tell Paul, and why does
Paul tells us?
If
We Don’t Take the Time to Remember, We Won’t 
Paul doesn’t spell it out but the gospel
writers do, the reason that Jesus was having dinner with the Apostles was to
celebrate the Passover, the greatest celebration on the Jewish Calendar. 
But the fact that the Jewish people were
still remembering the Passover 1500 
years after it happened wasn’t accidental.  The Passover celebration was mandated and every
year the Jewish people would step away from the ordinary to celebrate the
extraordinary. 
The celebration went back to the beginning
of the Old Testament when God delivered the people of Israel from the slavery
of Egypt.  And in the book of Exodus God
spelled out the Passover celebration. 
And each element had a purpose, and that was to remind the people what
had been done for the people of Israel. 
The purpose was so they would not forget.    
And the Passover celebration is still an
essential part of the Jewish faith. 
Why?  Because around the world, in
good times and in bad, in wartimes and in peace Jews take the time to remember.
Even during World War 2 in the death camps
of Nazi Germany Passover was celebrated.  
Because the Jewish people understood that If we don’t take time to
remember, we won’t.
2000 years ago on the evening before he
would be arrested and ultimately be crucified Jesus met with his apostles for
the Passover dinner and he understood the frailty of human memory. 
And just as he had instituted the Passover 1500
years before now he defines a new point of remembrance.  In our tradition we call it Communion, others
refer to it as the Lord’s Table or the Eucharist. 
And Eucharist comes from a Latin word that meant “gratitude.”


And around the world Christians come together to celebrate and to
remember.  I have participated in
communion in six countries on four continents, and as different as they have
been in some ways they’ve been similar in many other ways. 
At Cornerstone we normally celebrate communion once a month, or so, other
churches do it weekly while others will only celebrate three or four times a
year. 
At Cornerstone we normally use pita bread, other churches use wafers
while others use matzo bread or wonder bread. 
At Cornerstone we use grape juice, for a whole variety of reasons.  You might be interested to know that the
process of pasteurizing grape juice so it wouldn’t ferment was developed by a
Wesleyan Pastor named Thomas Welsh for use in communion at his Church.  His son Thomas ultimately started a company
that began marketing the grape juice to evangelical churches as “Biblical
Wine”.
Other churches use wine instead of grape juice.  I’ve partaken in communion with red grape
juice, white grape juice, wine and in West Africa we used a fruit flavored soft
drink called Vimto and once,  because we
didn’t have anything else, we used Coke.
But regardless of what we call it, how we celebrate it or how often we
celebrate it the reason that we celebrate communion is so we won’t forget.
Later this morning and then on Friday you will be called to remember a
different type of sacrifice.   
Each year at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month
we pause for two minutes of silence.  And
it is remembering the end of the First World War.  In some countries it is called Armistice Day,
in others Remembrance Day and in others Veteran’s Day and some just call it
Poppy Day. 
It was first observed in 1919 a year after
the surrender of Germany signified the end of WWI.  Now it goes beyond simply remembering the end
of that war to recognizing those who have served in the Armed Forces.  And for the most part it is a stylized night vigil. The Last Post was the common bugle call at the close of the
military day, and The Rouse was the first call of the morning.
And we do it so we
don’t forget the sacrifices made by our military.  It is not to honour or glorify war, but to
remember.  Because If We Don’t Take the Time
to Remember, We Won’t 
But it’s not just about remembering. 
It’s about remembering something. 
 
Let’s go back to our scripture
1 Corinthians 11:23-24  For I pass on to you what I received from
the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread
and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember
me.”
So the first thing is
that We Are Called to Remember the Bad
In Passover the bread
that was used was a hard unleavened bread called the Bread of Affliction.  And that comes from Exodus 16.  And it was a reminder of the suffering the
Jews had endured while they were slaves.
Even while they were
escaping there were those who looked back to Egypt with longing.   In Exodus 16:3  The
Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt!
There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have
brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”   No, they didn’t sit around
pots of meat eating all the food they wanted. 
They were confusing captivity with the Gold
Correl.  They were beaten and starved and
killed by the Egyptians, and each year at Passover the bread of affliction
reminded them of that.
And it is so typical of us to forget the
bad, if women didn’t forget childbirth every child would be an only child. 
In the communion celebration it was the Bread
of Affliction that Jesus held up and offered to the disciples.
But more than that he wanted them to
remember his words from John 6:47-51  “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.
 Yes, I am the bread of life!  Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.
 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however,
will never die.  I am the living bread that
came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this
bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
Jesus 
wanted them to remember that he willingly gave his life for the Apostles
and ultimately for us.  It is a reminder
that not only did Jesus die for our sins but he died willingly and
painfully.   600 years before Christ
offered his body the prophet wrote Isaiah 53:5  But
he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the
punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
And if you read the gospel accounts you
discover the sacrifice that Jesus made for each of us.  He allowed himself to be beaten, to be
flogged with a whip tipped with bone and metal shards, to have a crown of
thorns pushed onto his head and to be nailed to a cross.
Sometimes as protestants we trivialize the
crucifix of the Catholic church and say “We don’t keep Jesus on the
cross.”  Oh stop it, the Catholic church
doesn’t believe that Jesus is still on the cross, they believe in the physical
resurrection of Christ.  Unlike some
protestant churches. 
But sometimes I think the Catholics
remember better than us what Jesus went through as they see him beaten and
bloody on the cross.  Another
tangent. 
And on November 11th we not only
pause to remember the time that the Armistice was signed on November 11th
1918 but we pause to remember those who died to make that a reality, those who
didn’t come home or didn’t come home whole. 
In 1879 General William Sherman spoke
to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy and said “I’ve been where you are now and I
know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the
breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the
skill you have acquired here.
Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been
through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen
thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies.
I tell you, war is Hell!”
And so today we will remember. 
At this time I’m going to ask those who
have been invited to assist with communion to come forward. 
At Cornerstone we
celebrate an open communion that is we don’t limit it to members of Cornerstone
or of the Wesleyan Church.  Instead it is
a celebration for the Family of God.  So
this morning you might be a Christ Follower and when you hold the bread you
will remember the day you decided to follow Jesus.  Perhaps you haven’t made that decision yet
but you are acknowledging that Jesus is the son of God and died for your sin
and you are remembering his life and death and resurrection.  He is offering the gift of forgiveness,
salvation and eternal life, but it is a gift that is only valid when it is
accepted. 
It was during the
Passover celebration that Jesus broke what was known as the bread of
affliction. And so two thousand years ago, Christ told his disciples, don’t
forget me, don’t forget the sacrifice that I made, don’t forget what I’ve done
for you, whenever you do this remember me and what I’ve done. 
BREAD the same night that he was betrayed, he took
bread and gave thanks saying “Blessed are you, O
Lord, our God, King of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth”
After he had given
thanks he broke the bread and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body which I’ve surrendered for you, eat
and remember what I’ve done for you” 
Distribute Elements.
Let us remember the
body of our Lord Jesus Christ that he gave up for each one of us.   It was through his sacrifice that we have
eternal life.  Take and eat with
thanksgiving for what he has done for you.  
But it wasn’t just the
bread in the Passover feast that Jesus offered up that night, if we keep
reading we discover in   1
Corinthians 11:25
 In the same way, he took the cup of wine
after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant
between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to
remember me as often as you drink it.”
Not only are we to remember the bad, We Are Called to Remember the Good.  When the people of Israel celebrated the
Passover they were first called on to remember why God rescued them but more
important the entire feast was to celebrate the fact that God had rescued them.
The feast was called the Passover for a
reason. At the end of the plagues that visited the Egyptians when they wouldn’t
permit the people of Israel to leave we are told that the angel of death came
upon the country and the first born of their flocks and herds and families
died.   But the Israelites were to mark
their homes with the blood of a sacrificed lamb and the Angel of Death passed
over their homes.
So while the Passover began with the memory
of their slavery it ended with the story of their deliverance.  Of the promise being fulfilled.
When we pause to eat the bread in the
communion celebration we are taking the time to remember the sacrifice that
Jesus made for us.  We must never forget
the price that was paid.
But then Jesus tells the Apostles that the
wine was to remind them of his blood, and just as the people of Israel were
saved and delivered because of the blood of the Passover lamb that the blood of
Christ would save us.  
We are reminded in Colossians 1:19-20  For God in all his fullness was
pleased to live in Christ,  and through him God reconciled everything to
himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of
Christ’s blood on the cross.
And again in Romans
5:9
 And since we have been made right
in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s
condemnation.
We need to remember that Jesus gave his
life for us, but we must never forget that our salvation was sealed with his
blood.  And when we drink from the cup we
are remembering the miracle of the new birth, the touch of grace and the gift
of forgiveness. 
We are reminded in 1 John 1:7  . . . the blood of Jesus, his
Son, cleanses us from all sin.
When we pause to remember later in the
service and again on Friday, we can’t forget the sacrifices that were made, the
lives that were lost, but we need to remember why they gave their lives. 
Sometimes I get a little cranky at how few
people actually take the time to go to a cenotaph on Remembrance Day.  Seriously people, it’s an hour on a day you
are getting paid to remember. 
But that’s one of the freedoms that our
vets fought and died for, so we could decide for ourselves things like that,
that we wouldn’t live under a totalitarian government who would force us to
attend their functions.   And if you want
to rake your lawn at the 11 hour of the 11th day of the 11th
month.  You can.
So let’s take a few moments and remember
what Christ did for us through the shedding of his blood, he forgave us, he
saved us.  He did for us what we couldn’t
do for ourselves.
CUP    It was after the meal that he took a
cup of wine and gave thanks saying “Blessed are
you, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, who created the fruit of the vine.”
And after giving
thanks he gave it to them, saying “This cup
represents the new covenant of my blood. 
Whenever you drink it, remember the cleansing power that my blood has
had in your life.” 
Elements are passed
As we drink let us
remember the blood of the lord Jesus that was shed for you, and for your
eternal salvation.  Whenever you drink it
remember that he shed it for you and be thankful.
But when we remember we not only remember
the past, and we not only remember the present, but we look ahead to the
future. 
1
Corinthians 11:26
 For every time you eat this bread and
drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
We
Are Called to Remember the Promise
In the Passover Feast  the meal is ended with a prayer that the
night’s service be accepted by God. And then they speak the words “Next year in
Jerusalem!” Which is the hope for the Messiah to come and for the glory of
Jerusalem to be restored.
Communion for us is the acknowledgment that
the Messiah has come but more than that, Jesus tells us to remember that he
will come again.  The reminder that
whatever happens, that we’ve read the end of the book and we win. 
On Friday I will take part in our community
remembrance day ceremony at our new cenotaph and I will read the words of Isaiah
2:4
 The LORD will
mediate between nations and will settle international
disputes. They will hammer their swords into
plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.
Are you seeing the pattern?  Because that promise won’t be fulfilled until
Christ returns. 
And so we close with the words of the
Apostle John that he wrote in the last verses of the last chapter of the last book
of the bible.
Revelation
22:20-21
 He
who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!  May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s
holy people.