Do This In Remembrance…

Remember.  The whole of the Biblical narrative rides on the call to remember.  The journey of the People of Israel in the Old Testament is marked by the call to remember the Lord their God, to remember the Exodus and the story of deliverance, to remember what God has done in the past.  When the people cross into the land of promise Joshua tells them to gather up stones and pile them up on the other side of the river as a reminder of their journey.  And of course, in the Gospels Jesus’ simple command at the table gathers us around broken bread and shared cup with the words “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Next week we will mark a national day of remembrance.  Amid hot dogs and sailboats, beach side picnics and backyard bar-b-ques, hopefully we will all pause to remember.  I always remember my Uncle Jim, a twenty-three year old WWII pilot who made his last flight over Holland and never returned.  I remember gathering at the small town cemetery where he was laid to rest, standing with his brothers who made it home and my Grandfather who carried the memory deeper than anyone else.  My cousins and I were Cub Scouts and Brownies, marching in a small town parade, remembering an Uncle we never knew, just because it was important to remember.

But remembering has a reason.

The sacrament does not just look back, it looks forward.  As the liturgy says, we do this “…so that we might be for the world the Body of Christ.” We remember the gift so that we might become the gift for the sake of the world.  And on this Memorial Day we do not just look back, we look ahead praying that the memory of the price which has been paid through war would lead us to a day of peace.  Whenever I remember my Uncle Jim, I recommit myself to the task of peace-making so that another generation will never have to make the same sacrifice.  Regrettably, it seems we have a hard time learning that lesson and turning that hope a reality. So this Memorial Day, even as we pause to remember, the world is still at war and another generation of young men and women will take their place to small town cemeteries in America, in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan.  So we remember and we recommit ourselves to the cause of peace for the sake of those who die and in the name of the One who calls us to remember.

Jack Harnish