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Summary: A communion message following September 11, 2001

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A Time to Remember

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:15-20

IT’S a painful question while thousands

of victims remain buried in the rubble

of the World Trade Towers,

but it’s already being asked:

What will take the place of the World Trade Center once the wreckage is cleared?

Several answers have been suggested.

Some commentators suggest that anything other

than rebuilding the towers as closely

to the 110-story originals as possible

would be a monument to the terrorism that destroyed the originals.

Others, however,

suggest that whatever is eventually put on that land, which is some of the most valuable real estate in the world, it will certainly have to include a memorial of some kind to the victims, and to the many people heroes the tragedy spawned.

As a matter of fact, within hours of the tragedy, impromptu memorials started appearing all over the world, in places like

Sweden,

Berlin,

Tokyo,

Moscow,

and Tel Aviv,

where this picture was taken.

It’s only fitting, of course.

When something of that magnitude happens,

it’s only natural--and right--to want to mark it,

to remember it . . .

On the site of the Oklahoma City bombing,

of course, a moving memorial was erected,

with a dramatic arch bearing the precise time--9:01--

when the bomb went off and life--

for many, young and old--

came to a stop.

The memorial also includes nine rows

of bronze-and-stone chairs representing

the 168 people killed that day.

It’s only fitting.

So, too, is a different kind of memorial,

which has been a sacred spot to Jews

2,031 years now,

since the Romans invaded Jerusalem

in 70 A.D. and destroyed the Temple

that had been the center of Jewish life

for generations.

It’s called the western wall,

a section of foundation stones that supported

that temple...

And now--

since the liberation of east Jerusalem in 1967--

Jews gather every day to pray,

at that unique place,

a memorial of sorts,

a place for remembering.

It’s only fitting.

This morning,

I want to draw your attention to another memorial.

Have you ever paused to consider

that Jesus, when he was on earth

in a physical body,

walking the streets of Galilee and Judea,

healing, teaching, laughing,

preparing his followers for his eventual death,

resurrection, and ascension,

he could have said to them,

“Make this stable, where I was born,

a memorial to me.”

He could have said,

“Build a shrine to me here,

on the shore of the Jordan, where I was baptized.”

He could have told them to make Calvary,

or the empty tomb,

a memorial.

But he chose none of those things as a memorial.

Instead, on the night of his betrayal and arrest,

he celebrated the Passover with his closest friends.

And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God."

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:15-20, NIV).

It’s only fitting.

Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death,

which he endured in order to

satisfy the holiness and justice of God

and pay the price that our sins deserved,

and so make it possible for us to obtain forgiveness,

cleansing,

peace with God,

and eternal life,

that heroic, selfless, loving act

is memorialized not in bronze or stone,

not in a painting, not in a statue,

but in an act,

an act he invites you, if you are his follower, to take part in,

an act that symbolizes his body--

broken for you--

and his blood--

which was poured out for you.

It is an act which, while we slept,

was happening under a thatched roof in

the Philippine islands,

an act which Christians in China

risked their lives to do while we lay safely in our beds,

an act already performed today

beneath the towering, ancient idols of India,

an act that was celebrated hours ago

in the cities and villages of Africa,

an act already concluded today

in the great cathedrals of Europe.

And so, I would encourage you, as those who are going to serve us come forward to the front,

where they will be waiting so that,

as we enter a time of prayer and reflection,

you can come forward

singly or in groups or family units

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