By Michael Bell
And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24
Why is it that participating in a meal together can invoke such strong memories, and not necessarily of the meal itself but of the people involved? Let me tell you a little story.
For me, one of the best meals ever, had to be from one of the times my Dad and I made bread on a stick, cooked over a fire, during winter camping with his Scout troop. The recipe and process were both simple. You took Bisquick, mixed it with water, wrapped it around a long stick, and slowly browned it over a low fire. Not only was it nourishment, but it warmed you up on the inside when the temperature might have been 20 below zero outside your snow shelter. Of course it wasn’t just about the bread, it was about spending time with my Dad, learning from him, enjoying the outdoors together, and all the memories associated with that. And my mind goes so easily from those memories to memories of summer camping, portaging into Stoplog lake, fishing, mixing blueberries with instant pudding, for a quick delightful desert. Memories like waiting with the canoe in a shallow rock cave at the edge of the lake while a rainstorm goes by. They bring on other memories, like playing in the natural jacuzzi and waterfall created by the stream that enters the lake. There are no bad memories of camping with Dad, but they are certainly powerful ones.
It is too bad that we don’t have direct memories of that last meal that Jesus spent with his disciples. Imagine how sharing a meal with Christ would make our memories of his so much stronger. I would love it if I could remember Christ in the same way that I remember the time I spent with my Dad. But in many ways partaking in the Lord’s table, how ever often you do it, is building memories of your relationship with Jesus Christ and of all he has done for you. Thinking back on how a meal spent with my Dad now means so much more to me that just the meal itself. Next time I take communion, I will certainly remember that this is more than just a little ritual, it is meant for us to think long and deep about Christ and all that he went through in order to bring about our salvation.
And yes, Bread on a stick, is certainly an experience I am going to have to share with my kids this winter. In doing so I will have to tell them the story of how I did it with my Dad, and how Christ did something similar with his disciples, and told them to continue to doing it as a way of remembering him… Just like I do with my Dad.