It could be well argued (though argument is far from the point) the most important words in Christendom are “Take, eat” and “Drink from it.” On the night in which Christ was betrayed, Jesus spoke these words to his disciples using bread and wine as symbols of the new covenant. Only after the last supper, after Christ’s crucifixion, did the disciples begin to understand the meaning of eating the bread and drinking the wine.
“Do this in remembrance of me,” Christ said. With these words, Christ asked more from me than I am able to comprehend. I admit most of my life I walked toward the altar, knelt, and treated Holy Communion as a perfunctory part of worship. Void of any feeling or depth of meaning, I ate the bread and drank from the cup, asking for some cursory forgiveness of wrongs I would commit again. Any remembrance of Christ, any real repentance evaded me. After all, how many times did I avoid a homeless man to keep twenty dollars in my pocket for some trivial gratification. I did not remember Christ. I forgot Him!
How many times did I have to forget to remember? How many stumbles before I could walk? How many denials in whatever form before I proclaimed Him without wavering? How long before the meaning of Christ’s words took hold of something inside me other than recitation?
But God does not walk past us and forget. He remembers. He remembered me. He remembers you.
I can liken this to having a friend, a best friend who you know so well you cannot be separated even by years and miles, whose presence transcends even death. When the friendship formed, each knew instantly only good could come from this bond, could overflow in a way one or the other’s failures would never inhibit the shared forgiveness. Each shared everything because both realized the real connection flourished in the giving of self, of possession, of time, of the truth friendship mirrors the mercy and forgiveness Christ gave to us. And isn’t this what Christ meant, to give to another what He gave to us—mercy, love, forgiveness—without any expectation of return. Yes, this is how we remember Him. Scripture repeats this. This we must remember. We receive Holy Communion only to give away what we have been given.
And more, when we “take, eat,” when we “drink from it,” we begin a journey of preparation, a “taking on” of the new life, a solemn endeavor to serve our Lord, to become as Christ. This is no easy task. But in Holy Communion, we put on the coat of Christ. This is the new covenant, not only redemption through repentance, though this is enough, but also to live out our repentance by giving.
But I keep on taking the bread and drinking from the cup until I remember Him in all those little unknown situations to anyone but Him and me, until kneeling at the altar is perfunctory no more.