Summary: This message looks at Communion in lgiht of Passover and Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day) Why we need to remember and what we need to remember.
In 2013 the British National Army Museum voted it "Britain's Greatest Battle". If you are thinking perhaps “D-Day and Normandy” you’re close, that placed second. Or maybe you drifted back further to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Waterloo placed third.
Most of us would be hard pressed to come up with the correct answer and that is unfortunate. On the location of the battle there is a monument which contains these words, “When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today.”
And most of us don’t even know that it happened, the world has forgotten.
It happened in Kohima, a town in Northeast India, in the spring of 1944. The Japanese had launched an offensive called the “U Go offensive” with the ultimate goal of preventing the British from liberating Burma. And the British decided that the Japanese forces would not get past Kohima.
And so on April 5 1944 12,000 Japanese troops began their offensive, defending Kohima were 1,500 British troops under the command of Colonel Hugh Richards.
For the next 64 days the Japanese hammered the British in what some refer to as the "Stalingrad of the East". And after 64 days the Japanese retreated, one Japanese war correspondent, Shizuo Maruyama, wrote “We had no ammunition, no clothes, no food, no guns. At Kohima, we were starved and then crushed.”
Many feel that the battle of Kohima was a turning point in the war in the pacific. And yet for many it is now an non-event. Human memory is such a fragile thing.
This fall my preaching theme has been “Hashtag This” and we’ve been looking at various words and phrases in the bible that would probably have warranted a Hashtag if anyone had been tweeting or posting on Facebook 2000 years ago.
Today we are going to the story of the last supper which was read for you earlier, and in particular we are going to stop for a while on #rememberme.
I think it’s fitting that Remembrance Sunday falls on a Communion Sunday but are times to remember.
The last supper is chronicled in the 3 synoptic Gospels, that is Matthew, Mark and Luke. John mentions the foot washing but doesn’t deal with the meal itself. And then Paul picks up the story in 1 Corinthians, in the account that we read earlier. I always find it interesting that Paul starts his account with these words. 1 Corinthians 11:23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. Things that make me go hmmmmmm.
And there are those who would tell us that Paul simply received this in some form of revelation from Jesus, maybe a dream or a vision. But what it says is this 1 Corinthians 11:23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself.
Doesn’t say how he received it. Hmmmmmmm.
Later in his story, Paul tells us that he received some of his training as a Pharisee in Jerusalem, he was close to the same age of Jesus, and he belonged to the religious groups that brought charges against Jesus. So I wonder, now understand that this is just speculation, Denn’s mind doing what Denn’s mind does.
I wonder if the many stories that Luke told, in his Gospel, of Jesus meeting and debating with the Pharisees came from a young eye witness named Saul? Or maybe one of the many stories that are recorded where Jesus speaks with an unnamed “expert in religious law”, if the person Jesus was talking to might have been named Saul who would later change his name to Paul. Just wondering.
I wonder if Saul may have met Jesus during his ministry years and rejected his invitation to follow him? I wonder if maybe he heard him speak of the last supper in post resurrection conversations?
But regardless of how Jesus told Paul, we have in this account Jesus’ perspective of what happened that night.
So why did Jesus tell Paul, and why does Paul tells us?
If We Don’t Take the Time to Remember, We Won’t
Paul doesn’t spell it out but the gospel writers do, the reason that Jesus was having dinner with the Apostles was to celebrate the Passover, the greatest celebration on the Jewish Calendar.
But the fact that the Jewish people were still remembering the Passover 1500 years after it happened wasn’t accidental. The Passover celebration was mandated and every year the Jewish people would step away from the ordinary to celebrate the extraordinary.
The celebration went back to the beginning of the Old Testament when God delivered the people of Israel from the slavery of Egypt. And in the book of Exodus God spelled out the Passover celebration. And each element had a purpose, and that was to remind the people what had been done for the people of Israel. The purpose was so they would not forget.