Active Remembrance

Today is Remembrance Sunday.  In the UK we take time to pause and remember the sacrifice of those who fought in some of the terrible wars of the past. They gave their lives for the freedom of others.

I’m more and more captivated by what remembrance is.  You may have picked up on some of this in my articles about communion.  I think we can risk a shallow understanding of remembering where we see things as just a reminder of stuff that happened a long time ago in our lives or the lives of others.

But remembering is meant to be richer than just a few memories and reminders in the mind.  Think about when you have shared a beautiful and wonderful moment, a wedding, a great holiday, an incredible victory at Wembley for your team.  You don’t just want to remember the facts and stats.  You want to recapture in your imagination the sights and sounds, the tastes and smells, every fond memory, every feeling and sensation.

Similarly, we do this when a loved one dies.  We retell stories, the sad, the happy, the poignant and the funny. We laugh and cry. We remember.  We relive those days and in some sense through that, we try to hold on to the person and all they mean to us for just a little bit longer.

I believe that when Israelites and Jews sat down to eat the Passover Meal, it was in that kind of sense that they remembered.  They weren’t just reporting on the past. They were reliving it.  They identifying with their forefathers who ate that first lamb and painted blood on their doorposts.  They were eating the same meal together with them.

It is this kind of active remembrance that Communion enables us to participate in and that Jesus calls us to.  Communion offers us a moment to relive, to trace our steps back to the day when Christ came into our lives and further back to Calvary where he gave his body and his blood for us.

Remembrance Sunday should be an opportunity for us to pause and remember in the sense of reliving and sharing in those past sacrifices, to gain a true sense of the horror of war so that we might desire peace all the more.  It’s a time to share in the sacrifice that parents and grandparents made so that our gratitude grows.

As believers, our remembrance is of something greater still. As our mind’s eye sees the sacrificial cost of soldiers on the western front and the evacuees escaping London from the blitz, we are reminded of the greater sacrifice, that greater war where Jesus gave his life in order to defeat sin, Satan and death for us.

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