Monday, September 12, 2011
note: this is a fuller development of what I used yesterday at Grace Crossing during our time of Remembrance. We celebrated communion together, and watched as the names of all 3,497 victims of the September 11 attacks scrolled on the screen.
Back when I was at First Baptist Smithton, one of the joys of living in a small town on a very large river was all of the fish, and all of the fishermen willing to share that fish, with their preacher. One day, my phone rang and it was Tom Pope. His burly bass voice boomed through the phone like always, "Preacherman, I've got you some fish, you want me to bring 'em up to the church?" My answer was, of course, "yes!," so he did, and I put them in the church refrigerator. Now, it was early in the day, and knowing myself quite well, I knew there was a chance that I would forget those fish, so I put my truck keys in the refrigerator with them. That way, there was absolutely 0% chance that I could forget there was tasty flounder just waiting for my belly.
Yeah, about that.
When I got ready to leave that afternoon, I thought, "that's odd, I can't find my keys." So I looked in my office. And in the front lock of the church. And in the sanctuary. And then in my truck. And then I started frantically searching everywhere trying to find my keys. After about 2 hours of breathless searching, I finally called Jennifer to come bring me my extra key so I could get home.
Just then the phone rang, and Barb, one of my church members who just happened to be there when Tom came by with my fish, was on the other end. I don't even remember now why she was calling, but I asked her if by any chance she remembered me doing something with my keys. "Jason, you silly boy, you put them in the refiger...." DING DING DING! The bell sounded, and of course I remembered what it was I was supposed to remember. Of course, I also felt like the stupidest human alive, but at least I got home, and had a tasty supper!
This past week has been a week of remembering. There have been television shows, moving images and stories of the people affected by the tragic attacks that happened 10 long/short years ago. As a pastor, I struggled with how to best bring together the worship of our eternal Father in hope with an event that seemed to remind us of just how hopeless this world can be. We celebrated communion, and I tried my best to reflect on the event in a way that gave it the appropriate amount of gravity - not crushing, because we don't weep as those who have no hope, but also not flippant, because September 11 changed the world for most of us reading this blog.
I was struck with an idea that had never hit my admittedly small mind before: When Jesus sat around the table with friends and established what we call "communion," he asked for a specific kind of remembrance. He didn't say, "this is my body, this is my blood, remember the event of the cross." He didn't ask us to remember the violence of the event, or the betrayal, or the emotion they all must have felt in that place. Jesus asked us to remember HIM, the person. The flesh and blood man who came as one of us and lived as none of us has ever been able.
So as we continue this week to remember, my question is, "what are we remembering?" As believers, we aren't allowed to stew in anger, or wrap ourselves in lust for revenge. We aren't supposed to let grief and fear overwhelm us, because we have a hope beyond this tangible, broken world. So I believe that we honor the day by honoring the people.
I made comment yesterday about how, as a preacher, the only thing I really have to offer this world are words. Events like September 11, 2001 have so much gravity, they crush most words into powder, so that only the strongest kinds of words can withstand the sheer volume of emotions - the most powerful words in any language - a name.
We are told that it is at the "name" of Jesus that all knees will ultimately bow in worship. We are reminded throughout the Old Testament in the names of people and places of the power of the proper noun. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a name must be worth thousands of pictures - everything the person that name represents has ever seen, or been seen doing.
When Jesus asks us to remember Him, He is asking us to remember Jesus the son, the brother, the friend, the teacher, and of course, our Savior. In short, we are asked to remember Him as a person with a name.
So we remember the people. The fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and sons and daughters and friends and co-workers. We remember their names, because no other words will suffice.
at 10:08 AM