Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"In Remembrance of Me"

Easter approaches.

To Christians, the meaning of Easter is fundamentally one of triumph, because, as our Apostle's Creed states, "on the third day" Christ rose again. Easter is in many ways thus the linchpin of Christianity.

I have always been especially struck, however, by one particular aspect of Easter Weekend, and that is the end of the Last Supper. More particularly, I have always been struck by the simple phrase which concludes each of the elements of the Last Supper, where Christ states, "do this in remembrance of me." No great theological debates or civil wars are invoked by these words, just the bare injunction "do this in remembrance of me." And, as A.N. Wilson's brilliant book, How Can We Know? demonstrates, this instruction and this hope has animated believers, without interruption, for roughly 2,000 years.

One day, when my faith in atheism was wobbly, like a loose tooth, I went to church with my new wife. That Sunday was a Communion Sunday. As the pastor walked the congregation of probably 200 people through the elements of Communion, he paused, and he looked out on the crowd. He said "Christ died for all of us, but he would have died for any of you. He would have given His life just for you." This was probably the first time I ever paid any attention to the words of the Communion.

Then he looked at me straight in the eye, on the far side of the church in the middle of the crowd, and he said "And all that He really asks in return is 'do this in remembrance of me.'"