Perpetual Remembrance

When it comes to marked events, there are two ways to remember them. One is to avoid forgetting, and the other is to enact what you have never forgotten.

We mistake when we think that the first kind of remembrance is the only kind there is. But when the Bible says that the Lord remembered Noah, this does not mean that He slaps His forehead. “Oh, right! Noah!” It means rather that He acted on what He always knew, and that action was a remembrance.

Because we are sinners we sometimes forget such remembrances, but when we forget them in this second sense, we are forgetting to do something. God tells the Jews (and us) to remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy. More is involved in “remembering” than to be able to say, “Today is Sunday, I believe.”

When Jesus says that we are to do this meal in remembrance of Him, He is appealing to something deeper than mere cognition. He is telling us to observe this as a remembrance, as a memorial. If you remembered, halfway through the day, that it was your anniversary, but neglected to do anything about it, you are still in the doghouse, even though you “remembered.” If you remember and don’t do, this makes the problem worse, not better.

But if you remembered your anniversary, and took your wife out to dinner, she is observing the remembrance as much as you are, even though you took the initiative.

In a similar way, this meal is as much a remembrance, a memorial, for the Lord, as it is for us. Just as the rainbow in the sky was a remembrance to the Lord to not destroy the earth again, so this meal is a remembrance to the Lord to forgive us all our sins, and preserve us forever within His covenant.

Our confession of faith echoes the biblical language at this point. We are to observe this Supper in the Church, to the end of the world, as a “perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of [Christ] in His death” (29.1).

So in this observance, in this remembrance, in this memorial, please realize that not only are you remembering what Christ has done for you, but Christ is also remembering what He has done for you. Therefore, come in all gladness.

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