"...in memory of me."
"Then he took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.'" (Luke 22:19)
As the saying goes, "X marks the spot." That's certainly the case in this situation. I had to walk into the middle of a busy street to get this shot, but something told me I just had to do it. I waited for the traffic light to change and ventured across to get the photo. I stood directly over the spot and took the picture. I guess it really doesn't make much sense unless I show you the X in context.
Now most of you know exactly where I was standing. When Patti and I were in Dallas a few weeks ago we made a trip to see the spot that was burned into my brain since I was a young child. I was in third grade when President Kennedy was assassinated and will never forget the look of horror on the face of our teacher when the school secretary unexpectedly entered our classroom and whispered the news of the president's death into our teacher's ear. It was near the end of the school day so our teacher decided not to tell us the news. As we left the school and began to mingle with older students the news began to spread from whisper to whisper.
The next several days were some of the most memorable in my life. It seemed as though the president's death and the unfolding events that followed consumed every conversation and moment of our lives. For several days all the television stations broadcasted nothing but the news and analysis of the assassination and the nation's mourning rituals. Even our precious Saturday morning cartoons were preempted by the coverage. The whole situation was a lot for our young minds to comprehend. Many of us found ourselves thrust into the middle of the sort of ugliness of life that our parents worked hard to protect us from. As we watched the events we knew deep down inside that we were part of something mysterious, monumentally important, and almost impossible for anyone (young or old) to fully comprehend.
As I walked across the street, climbed the grassy knoll, and toured the Texas Book Depository Building I was aware of a very strange experience I was having. I love history so I've visited many historic sites across the country. However, this experience in Dallas was very different. I wasn't standing on a spot and simply recalling some historical event that had occurred there in the past. This time I felt like I was re-experiencing history. Even though I hadn't been in Dallas on November 22, 1963, standing on that spot I felt like I was somehow part of what had happened. I wasn't simply recalling history, I was being pulled back into the history I was part of during those important days in my life.
As strange as it may sound, when I walked across that street and acknowledged the feeling I was having my thoughts were drawn to the experience of Holy Communion. I thought to myself, "This is what Jesus meant when he said to do this in memory of him." When we approach the table to receive the precious elements it's not an invitation to simply recall an historical event. It is an invitation to be pulled back into the history we are part of - God's act of love in Jesus. It is the invitation to be re-connected or re-membered. It is the invitation to be part of something mysterious, monumentally important, and almost impossible for anyone (young or old) to fully comprehend. It is the invitation to not merely remember that something sacred once happened, but rather, to be part of the sacred that continues to happen.
When I experience moments that I feel myself drawn into God's sacred love it's often difficult to put the feelings into words. However, as I walked across that street in Dallas and felt myself drawn into history it helped me gain a new perspective on what it means to be drawn into the sacred. The next time I hear or speak the words at Holy Communion, "Do this in memory of me," I will celebrate anew being drawn into the presence of God's sacred love in Christ. I pray that God will help me draw others to that same sacred love. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia
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