REMEMBERING THE LORD
A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinFebruary 5, 1995
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. (LK 22:19)
Every individual is created to become an image of God. We have the capabilities to manifest the Lord’s love and wisdom. However, before we can display the Lord’s divinity, we must accept His influence. In other words, we must be conjoined with the Lord. This principle has been true since the very beginning of the human race. Even the angels confess their need for the Lord’s guidance in order to live an angelic life in heaven. We are the Lord’s image when we receive Him. If we do not, we only have the potential of being in His image.
During Old Testament times, the Israelites were conjoined with the Lord primarily through the Law. They were in communication with the angels, when they complied with all the Old Testament regulations. This communication was maintained by the correspondences of the rituals that were commanded to the Israelites. The communication was not dependent upon the people’s attitudes, nor their intentions. The conjunction was in the external acts, not within the people’s hearts.
However, when the Lord came to the earth, He made a fundamental change in how the human race could be conjoined with Divine love and with the heavens. He formed a new Church in which the association with the heavens would depend upon the person’s affections, not merely upon his or her external deeds. One of the ways in which the Lord established a more internal communication was by establishing the Holy Supper. We are taught that all of the Old Testament laws are contained in the Sacrament of the Holy Supper. When we perform the act of the Holy Supper in sincerity, we are allowing the Lord to establish a personal communication with the heavens.
Nevertheless, the key is that the Holy Supper be done in sincerity. Unlike in Old Testament times, where the communication with the heavens was maintained by a strict coherence with the Law regardless of the individual’s spiritual state, now the communication with the heavens is fully dependent upon our internal desires. If they are in agreement with the love from the Lord, the Holy Supper can strengthen the bond between the Lord and ourselves.
We uphold the integrity of the Holy Supper if we heed the Lord’s words, “This do in remembrance of Me”. This statement underscores the purpose for the Holy Supper, namely, to remember the Lord. The Greek word for remembering implies a calling of a person to one’s mind with affection. We are to remember the Lord in an appreciative way, not merely in an intellectual manner. For example, the way we remember a historical person is far different than the way we remember a loving friend. We are to remember the Lord with gratitude and appreciation.
The only way we can remember the Lord with affection is to remove the impurities of our lives. The Holy Supper implores the participant to evaluate his or her personal relationship with the Lord. This personal examination with the Holy Supper or the Communion is generally acknowledged throughout Christian Circles. Most Christians are told to examine their spiritual lives as they partake of the elements of the Holy Supper. This is mainly due to Paul’s statement that a person must examine himself or herself in order for the Holy Supper to be effective.
The Holy Supper can be a means of providing a person, regardless of faith or denomination, a periodic evaluation of his or her’s spiritual condition. We also have more insight in what needs to be corrected in order to have a more open reception of the Lord’s guidance. When we remove evils as sins, we are able to remember the Lord with affection. When we gratefully call the Lord to our minds, we will have a meaningful conjunction with Him.
Specifically, the Writings give three general uses for the Holy Supper: first to have a communication with the Lord; second, to be conjoined with the Lord and have a communion with all other beings who sincerely believe in the Lord; and third, to appropriate to ourselves the Lord’s goodness and wisdom. If we are sincerely active in examining ourselves and removing harmful barriers in our lives, these three uses are being accomplished within us.
Therefore, the Writings for the New Church do speak a great deal about approaching the Holy Supper worthily. If we are worthy as we approach the Holy Supper, it will serve its function. There may be the reaction to fear the Holy Supper, when we notice the teachings about being worthy. We are reminded about our disorders and fear that we are polluting the Holy Supper. However, the Writings do not describe coming before the Holy Supper worthily as being without faults. Instead, we are unworthy when we regard the Holy Supper as a waste of time. If we just think of it as some exercise that has no spiritual value, we are unworthy. But if we regard it as a holy act, we are approaching the Holy Supper worthily. The more we regard the Holy Supper with reverence, the more worthy we are.
When we have a reverent attitude towards the Holy Supper, there will be many blessed results. First, we come as if we are presenting ourselves before the Lord. This implies that we approach the Lord as God, the One Who is the source of all good. In fact, if we only think of the Holy Supper as the holiest act of worship and think of the Lord’s love while we are partaking of it, the Holy Supper will serve its function. The more we have an understanding about the Lord’s love and how we can receive it, the more meaningful the Holy Supper will become in our lives. Second, the idea of repentance is especially prevalent during the Holy Supper. This is because as our thoughts are elevated more into the light of heaven, our selfish tendencies become more visible. Once again, when we see our imperfections during such a holy act, we may be tempted to fear that we are violating the Holy Supper. But the Lord’s holiness does not intend to degrade us nor punish us. The Lord’s holiness is operating to uplift us. And we are uplifted as we confront our selfish and disorderly delights and seek their removal. They can only be removed when they are brought to view. And when we are in a holy environment, where we are able to think on a deeper level of thought, our hidden tendencies towards evil will become more exposed. And when steps are taken to have them removed, we have a stronger conjunction with the Lord.
Third, we have a stronger understanding regarding charity. There will also be a greater resolve to worship the Lord in life and think about the consequences of our actions towards our neighbor. The effects our deeds will have upon others will continually be more dominant in our lives.
Finally, we will have a greater faith in the Lord. When we partake of the Holy Supper, it can increase our confidence and trust in the Lord and in His providence. We are taught that we receive a genuine faith as we are constantly thinking about the Lord and the life we are to lead. In other words, our belief in the Lord will influence every aspect of our lives. We will develop the ability not to think maliciously about others and strive to promote what is fair and beneficial towards all.
When we regularly partake of the Holy Supper, it can be a perpetual reminder about the Lord. It can regularly put the Lord in the forefront of our minds. This is why the Holy Supper is called the most holy act of worship. It provides a stronger conjunction of the church with heaven. And the effects of the Holy Supper can influence our daily lives as we perform our tasks and responsibilities in the natural world. This is the perpetual thought that we all can have and that will make each one of us a part of the body of the church in the name of the Lord. “This do in remembrance of Me”. AMEN