Remembering the Gift
Yesterday, we celebrated Memorial Day. For many, this is a day to spend with family and loved ones, while for others it is a day of rest from work and the requirements of our daily lives. For others, it is an opportunity to reflect upon and to remember those who have sacrificed for the rest of us. Of course, it is for this purpose that we even have a Memorial Day, and the other possibilities are simply wonderful by-products that a day like this affords some.
But on Memorial Day, my attention is always drawn to remember the life of Christ. It is this life, after all, that those of us who claim to follow Jesus are seeking to imitate. And so, the sacrifice that so many have made is a sort of window into the sacrifice that Jesus made. It is a reminder. It is an echo. Now, of course, not everyone who has given their life has done so with the purpose in mind of imitating Jesus, and yet, I cannot help but view it this way. Perhaps it is because I am a minister. Or perhaps it is because I have never had to serve in a war myself. Nonetheless, I don’t think it is a negative thing to consider Jesus’ sacrifice when thinking about this idea of a Memorial Day.
One of my favorite practices is the weekly sharing of the Lord’s Supper. Not every church practices communion in this way, but I am appreciative of being a part of a church and a tribe that does. It gives us an opportunity every week to have a moment to remember and to think about this sacrifice of Jesus. And one of the things that is always most beautiful to me about that Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples is the way that he encouraged them to share in that meal. Take a look at the way Luke relates this story to us:
The tone of the passage is serious, although not necessarily solemn. There are hints of joyfulness included in the text. Jesus “earnestly desired” to share this meal. He gives thanks for both the first cup and the bread. He talks about God’s kingdom coming through this event–something that Jesus has been very concerned about all throughout his ministry, and now the moment is finally here. Of course, Jesus will experience a gamut of emotions throughout his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. But here, at this Last Supper with his 12 followers and friends–he is anticipating what is to come. There might not be outright excitement, but I think we can safely say that Jesus is hopeful.
Hopeful that what is about to happen is going to somehow, mysteriously, and with plenty of complexity, going to redeem and restore. That what is about to happen is going to sanctify and atone for. That in his sacrifice there will be ransom, restitution, and victory. The powers of hell, sin and death will not hold sway over Jesus, nor over the rest of creation. The Passover Lamb has been shared for us. And in that moment, we can know that God’s kingdom has come and continues to come on earth as it is in heaven.
This gift that Jesus shares with us and for us gives us cause to hope. Cause to hope that what God is doing in the world and through us is providing healing. That there is reason to not despair. For God is on the move. God is working. God has a gift for us. May we remember the gift. We we join in with this God in living the way that Jesus did.