Sunday November 21, 2004 | Ike Leimberer
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
This week, Ike, our Associate Community Pastor, discussed how communion is meant to be a celebration. Ike takes us back to the first communion as an example of the power of remembering through sharing our stories. Could it be that when we take communion in a large group we miss out on something Jesus valued? Do we miss the faith- and community-building aspect that Jesus meant for us to experience? We need to hear how God “showed up” in each other's lives to grow closer in community, to be encouraged, and to remember Jesus, to remember when...
This week, Ike Leimberer, our Associate Community Pastor, discussed the point of communion: remembering Jesus. He began by pointing out that each church has a different communion schedule – some may serve communion weekly, and other churches may serve it only once a year. The church Ike belonged to as a high school student offered communion on New Year’s Eve, with the typical “countdown” spent in deep, spiritual reflection about how worthy or ready one is to take the cup and the bread. Communion, in this setting, was thought by many to be the Great Party Killer! But it’s meant to be a celebration – a time to remember how Christ changed one’s life.
The first communion was recorded in Luke 22:14-20 where Jesus serves his twelve disciples wine and bread to essentially kick off something new (a new covenant). This was no small deal! So why did Jesus choose to start something new with such a small group of people? Technically, the feeding of the 5,000 or the setting of the first miracle at the wedding party would have provided better crowds for Jesus to introduce this new covenant. But Christ chooses to kick it off at a small dinner gathering with his closest friends during Passover, a time when the Israelites remembered all God had done for them while in Egypt. And while they remembered, their faith grew.
It was in this remembrance mode, this small group sharing time, that Jesus starts something new. “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” Could it be that Jesus meant to not only remember what he did on the cross for us (something we tend to focus on while participating in communion) but what he has done in our lives individually?
To demonstrate how powerful remembering can be, Ike told a story about his friend Jeff who died years ago. When Ike and Jeff’s other friends get together, Jeff’s name often comes up, along with numerous (often funny) stories. “Remember when Jeff…” Not only is Jeff remembered through these stories, but also the friendship between Ike and Jeff’s other friends is strengthened. Similarly, Ike helped us imagine how the disciples may have remembered Christ after his death.
We pictured them sitting around a table during a meal (with wine and bread present) remembering Peter’s sorry attempt to walk on water: “Yeah, man you almost drowned ‘cuz you stopped looking at Jesus!”
(To which Peter perhaps replied, “I wasn’t drowning – I was getting baptized.”) Or the time Jesus told a couple of them to pick up a basket of fish and bread to feed thousands of people: “I seriously thought he was kidding! But when basket kept filling itself up, I know something weird and wonderful was going on. That sort of stuff always happened when he was around!” And then the glasses were raised as they quietly remembered their leader, their friend, their savior.
Could it be that when we take communion in a large group we miss out on something Jesus valued? Do we miss the faith- and community-building aspect that Jesus meant for us to experience? Taking communion in such a large setting is a good first step. But it’s important to remember Jesus with smaller groups of people too, sharing what you remember about him. People need to hear about your times with Jesus in order to build up the faith of those for whom life seems hopeless. We need each other to help remember when…