At 6’3” “Bob” weighed only 128 lbs. He was very weak from starvation caused by a chronic illness. He was slowly dying. With tears in his eyes, he recently told me the story of how people in his faith community would drive by and wave to him as he struggled to mow his front lawn. He would walk very slowly down one row, mustering every ounce of strength he had to push the mower, and then, at the end of the row, he would stop and rest for a few minutes, then start the lawn mower back up and tackle one more row. No one stopped to help. Bob eventually had a partial recovery and is doing much better physically—at least he is no longer dying. But the emotional scars left by his faith community are still very evident.
Hearing Bob’s story caused me to reflect deeply upon the words of covenant I hear each week as I attend church. Evangelical churches typically recite these words when taking communion—or the Lord’s Supper: “Do this in remembrance of me.” The Eucharists or communions of other Christian faiths typically have similar calls to action, which are based upon the admonition of Jesus, at the Lord’s Supper, to “do this in remembrance of me.” (See Luke 22:17-20.) My own faith tradition invokes a covenant to “always remember Him” each week as we take the sacrament.
But what does it mean to “always remember him?”
For many, the call to action to “always remember Him” manifests itself in more rigid adherence to dogma, more faithful observance, more faithful attendance, more scripture reading, more praying, more thinking about Jesus during the week, all of which aren’t bad things. For others, it results in visualizing the suffering of Jesus and trying to think more about all that Jesus has done for them. But are you missing the point? And can you remember Jesus if you forget about me?
Can you remember Jesus if you see a sad look on my face and don’t take the time to sit down with me, listen to me and find out why I’m sad or struggling? Can you remember Jesus if you see me discouraged and don’t do what you can to offer encouragement and hope? Can you remember Jesus if I’m sick and you don’t come visit me?
Can you remember Jesus if you forget to call your mother, your mother-in-law, your brother, your sister? Can you remember Jesus if you forget to visit the sick and the shut-in? Can you remember Jesus if you forget to hug, to encourage, to cheer up the sad? Can you remember Jesus if you forget the dance recital or the soccer game?
Jesus saw no distinction between himself and all of those people. He taught, “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45.) So, to Jesus, remembering others is remembering him. Forgetting others is forgetting him.
He also saw no distinction between himself and you. Have you ever thought about why Jesus instructed the disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood? (See John 6:53-66.) Could one of the reasons be that he was trying to use the strongest metaphor possible to convey the message that you need to be Christ to others. You need to be their Savior. He needs to be in you and act through you. He wants you to incorporate who he is in the very fiber of your nerves, in the very tissues of your skin, in every sinew, in the very marrow of your bones.
He wants you to be worthy of the name “Christian” in every sense of the word. He wants you to be Christian, not just in thought, but also in deed.
So next time you take communion, the sacrament or whatever your faith tradition calls it, remember that to remember others is the way, the truth and the life that Jesus is calling you to live.
Don’t ever let the Bobs of this world mow the lawns of life alone.