‘Remember, remember the fifth of November…….
November is a month for remembering. The nights draw in, the leaves fall, the garden goes to sleep and there is more time to sit and reflect. Sometimes we fight this by ‘keeping busy’ so that we fend off the lurking sadness or fear. However, remembering also brings its blessings as we recall and are thankful for precious memories; close friends and family with whom life and love has been shared. The month starts with ‘All Saints Day’, then ‘All Souls’ and ‘Remembrance’ when we commemorate lives sacrificed to protect our freedom and restore peace. Each occasion is marked by familiar rituals, the lighting of candles, the wearing of poppies, the laying of wreaths. So often actions shout louder than words and silence speaks volumes.
Christians have a special way of remembering Christs sacrifice on the cross which purchased our forgiveness and opened the way to eternal peace. We share bread and wine at Holy Communion and remember the last supper Jesus had with his disciples on the eve of his death. As he took the loaf of bread he said, “This is my body, broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.” After supper he took a cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Like the lit candles and the poppies, the bread and wine are symbols of life and love and sacrifice. Yet they are more. There is a sense in which we - who gather at the communion table – partake of the divine; Christ comes and makes his home within us. For many Christians, taking communion is like filling up your car with fuel…. It gives us grace to keep going on our Christian journey. The fact that we share one loaf and (pre-Covid) one cup, reminds us that we are one fellowship in Christ; pilgrims together on the road.
The cross of Christ has been explained in numerous and weighty tomes, some of which I have read, but Jesus simply commanded us to eat, drink and remember. The word ‘re-member’ literally means ‘to put back together again; heal; make whole’. Remembering is a good thing when we do so in the presence of God and others. It recalls love given; love which is eternal; love which never ends. And if you are concerned that memory is fading and remembering is not as easy as it used to be….. let us take comfort from the words of our late Queen:
“The love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love.”