A Life to Remember
Sherri Yates told a story about her 5-year-old son observing her taking
communion. She said that he watched intently as she received the elements
and bowed her head to pray.
A few seconds later, she stole a peek at her unusually quiet son to
see what he was up to. He was by then intently watching his daddy at prayer
after taking communion. I was delighted that he was observing the solemnity
of the occasion. "Good parental example," she thought.
Her gratification was short-lived as Seth leaned toward her and whispered:
"What's in that stuff? You eat it and go right to sleep." (Citation:
Sherri Yates, Glendale, AZ, Christian Reader, "Lite Fare.")
The danger of having special days like Memorial Day and special memorials
as the Lord’s Supper is that somewhere along the way the real purpose of
the memorial is overshadowed by the traditions established to memorialize
There is a story about a priest that would always go over and touch
a radiator in the church building after his prayer for the communion. A
new priest took over his parish, but the new priest never went over and
touched the radiator after the communion prayer. Some members got very
upset because he never followed the practice of touching the radiator after
the communion prayer as the old priest had always done. The young priest
didn’t understand the practice, so he asked the old priest about his practice
of touching the radiator after every communion prayer. The old priest admitted
that he always touched the radiator, but he touched the radiator to get
rid of the static electricity so as not to give those taking communion
an electrical shock.
The Lord’s Memorial is about a Living Christ
How often do our traditions overshadow the real meaning of our
practices? Do we ever allow the death, burial and resurrection
of Christ to overshadow Christ’s life? The death of Christ was never meant
to overshadow his life. It is very easy to allow our observance of the
Lord’s Supper to overshadow the importance of Christ life. It was his death
that truly defined the purpose of his life. There is no way we can reflect
upon his death without remembering his life. When Jesus told his disciples,
"do this in remembrance of me" he was not confining remembrances of him
solely to his death, burial and resurrection. The remembrances of Christ
have to do with his life.
A few days ago we had a memorial service for Ahlene Del.
Did you notice that what was said was almost solely about how she lived?
When her death was spoken of it was defined by how she lived. It is almost
impossible to honor the memory of a person without honoring the way the
It was Christ’s life that gave his death meaning! Jesus
dying for our sins was the result of his choosing to obey the Father which
led to come to earth to become one of us. You see how his death is all
about his living for the Father. We must not overlook Jesus’ life by solely
reflecting upon his death. Jesus’ life gives us a single clear message
to come and follow him in obedience. You can see how this memorial service
is about continually choosing to live for God. In a sermon on Easter I
stated that the resurrection is not about dying but about a powerful way
of living. So it is with the Lord’s Supper; it is about reflecting on how
to live for Christ. Paul reminds us to examine ourselves as we partake
of this memorial (1 Corinthians 11:28).
Experiencing the death of Christ for me is all about discovering how
to live for Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:7-12
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that
this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed
on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted,
but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry
around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also
be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given
over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our
mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in
When my life experiences the death of Christ Jesus’ life is revealed
in my body. The results will be that it will bring life to others. When
I seek to die with Christ, Christ’s life is revealed to the lost.
If we want to honor those soldiers who have given their lives
to set us free, we must dedicate our lives to upholding the cause for which
they died. In a very real sense we must die. Die to self-enslavement
to set others free. Their deaths must create the desire in us to spread
freedom to a world that is enslaved. It has been hard for me to understand
how we can support our troops without honoring the purposes they seek.
It is so easy to forget the purpose behind Memorial Day. When
you think of Memorial Day Weekend, you probably think of family gatherings,
cookouts, homemade ice cream, and so on.
The good people of Lake City, Colorado, think of those things too. But
they take their holiday festivities a step further than most of us by staging
... A COFFIN RACE!
I am not making this up. On Saturday, May 24, they'll do it again, rigging
up caskets on wheels and whizzing down the town's main street. Looks sort
of like a soapbox derby, only sponsored by the local morgue.
One year's winner, Mike Doty, created a cadaver crate with lawnmower
wheels. After crossing the finish line, the 5-foot-6 1/2, 275-pound champ
chalked up his victory to "my great physical shape."
The coffin race is one of a handful of activities remembering Alfred
Packer, who in 1874 took five gold prospectors into the mountains near
Lake City, where they were trapped by a snowstorm. They ran out of rations,
but Alfred found an "alternative"--albeit grisly--food source: his gold-digging
Today, posters around town proclaim the event: "Commemorating Lake City's
Infamous Man-Eater!" (The posters also pitch the Tubby Carl Memorial Showmanship
Award, whatever that is.)
Other activities include a skeleton-assembly contest and the annual
Alfred Packer Barbecue Cookoff, with $700 in prize money.
There's also a flea market and plenty of food, including one entrepreneur
selling "manburgers"--hamburgers shaped like little men. And then there's
the big dance at the town armory on Saturday night.
Sounds like a blast.
Don't know about you, but I'm just dying to go! (Citation: "Strange
World," Campus Life, Vol. 53, no. 10. Rich Bersett, Belleville,
Churches can also become side tracked when it comes to celebrating
the Lord’s memorial. I have seen those who only run into the church
building to take communion and leave immediately when it is over. That
is the limit of their fellowship with the church. I think many of those
individual fail to understand that Christ’s sacrifice was about bringing
us into fellowship with each other in a new and living way through the
body of Christ.
The Lord’s Memorial is about living for Christ
It is our living sacrifice that gives the Lord’s memorial supper
its full significance. The Philistines had oppressed Israel for
twenty years when Samuel became judge in Israel. God had allowed the Philistines
to oppress Israel because of her sins. Samuel interceded for God and persuaded
Israel to put away her sinful practices of idolatry. They assembled at
Mizpah and fasted as they confessed, "We have sinned against the Lord"
(1 Samuel 7:2-6).
It was then that Samuel offered a burnt offering on behalf of the Israelites.
That burnt offering would have meant nothing without their commitment to
live for God through confession and repentance. Obedient lives gave meaning
to their sacrifice.
1 Samuel 7:10-13
10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the
Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the LORD
thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into
such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of
Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them
along the way to a point below Beth Car.
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah
and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us."
13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory
When we bring our lives to God through the Lord’s memorial supper
it allows us to realize the presence of God. Keep in mind that
the memorials throughout the Bible were memorials God established for his
people. They were established to allow God’s people to realize his presence
in their lives.
9 "Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names
of the sons of Israel 10 in the order of their birth--six names on one
stone and the remaining six on the other. 11 Engrave the names of the sons
of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then
mount the stones in gold filigree settings 12 and fasten them on the shoulder
pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is
to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the LORD. 13 Make
gold filigree settings 14 and two braided chains of pure gold, like a rope,
and attach the chains to the settings. NIV
The precious stones were to be upon the shoulder-pieces of the ephod,
stones of memorial for the sons of Israel; and Aaron was to bear their
names before Jehovah upon his two shoulders for a memorial, i.e., that
Jehovah might remember the sons of Israel when Aaron appeared before Him
clothed with the ephod (cf. v. 29). (Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on
the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database.)
To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant--
5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will not be cut off. NIV
God meets us in this memorial as we remember his Son’s sacrifice.
In it he accepts the memorial offering his Son has made for each of us.
It is as if we are offering the sacrifice afresh each time we partake as
a memorial to God. God enters into our presence in a very special way each
time we observe this memorial and establishes it as a memorial in his presence.
A well-known painting of the Vietnam Wall depicts a young widow
and her daughter standing at the wall, reaching up and touching the name
of the husband and father who died. The reflection in the polished
granite is not of the mother and daughter but of the husband and father
reaching out his hand to touch theirs.
That is the Lord's Supper. We arrive at the table and reach out our
hands to take this unleavened bread and this fruit of the vine. In response
to our act of faith, Jesus touches us.
According to a news report, a certain private school recently
was faced with a unique problem. A number of middle school girls
were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That
was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips
to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints. Every night, the maintenance
man would remove them and the next day, the girls would put them back.
Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. She called
all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man.
She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for
the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night. To demonstrate
how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the
maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He
took out a
long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror
with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.
What that maintenance person did left the kind of impression upon those
girls that Christ’s life must make upon our lives. Paul seeks to leave
this kind of indelible impression upon us in the following verses:
1 Corinthians 11:27-32
27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup
of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the
body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he
eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks
without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.
30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have
fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.
32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we
will not be condemned with the world. NIV
If we come and partake of this memorial feast without striving to live
worthy of the sacrifice, we sin against the body and blood of the Lord.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received
the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only
a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume
the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without
mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely
do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of
God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant
that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we
know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The
Lord will judge his people." 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the
hands of the living God. NIV
We sin against the body and blood, and trod underfoot the Son of God
when we partake of the Lord’s Supper in a flippant way. Don’t we also offer
his sacrifice anew each time we observe the Lord’s Memorial?
It is one thing to sin in weakness, and another to deliberately live
in sin. Your life is the only thing that can give personal meaning to Christ’s
2 Peter 1:5-9
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your
faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control;
and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and
to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep
you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord
Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and
blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
It is our way of living that gives meaning to Christ’s sacrifice.
When my knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ becomes unproductive in my life,
i.e., it ceases to guide my life, it means that Christ sacrifice has lost
its purpose for me.
The significance of any memorial is lost when we lose sight of
its original purpose. The purpose of memorials is for them to have
a changing impact upon our lives. I think the self sacrifice of the soldiers
in Baghdad has given a fresh meaning of Memorial Day. It is one thing to
teach about memorials; it is another for them to have an impact upon our
"This is the one I esteem:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit,
and trembles at my word.
3 But whoever sacrifices a bull
is like one who kills a man,
and whoever offers a lamb,
like one who breaks a dog's neck;
whoever makes a grain offering
is like one who presents pig's blood,
and whoever burns memorial incense,
like one who worships an idol.
They have chosen their own ways,
and their souls delight in their abominations;
4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and will bring upon them what they dread.
For when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, no one listened.
They did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me." NIV
For the Israelites to come and offer a bull as a sacrifice without
respecting God’s way of living was paramount to killing a man.
What made the sacrifice acceptable was a contrite spirit and respect for
The movie SAVING PRIVATE RYAN portrays one of the bloodiest conflicts
A crack military unit is sent in to rescue the private. The Rangers
were to take Omaha Beach, and then go after the private deeper into enemy
territory. The struggle is fierce and many lose their lives in the bloody
Upon reaching the location where Private Ryan is holed up, he resists
leaving saying that with an upcoming battle on the way, he must stay and
fight. The Rangers vow to stay and fight as well.
The battle is gory and most of them die horrible deaths—except Private
Ryan. The soldier played by actor Tom Hanks is seen sitting down having
been badly wounded. Private Ryan leans over in concern and Hanks shoots
back, "Earn this!" Then he dies.
The beautiful thing about the death of Christ is that there is
nothing we have to earn—or ever could earn. The price Christ paid
is far beyond anything we could ever earn. We cannot buy it, nor pay him
for it. But in a real sense we must make his death effective in each of
our lives by seeking to live as he lived. (Adapted from Tom Allen, Seattle,