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Our Creator apparently pre-programmed something into our human nature that causes us to take notice of and place emphasis on significant anniversaries.  When the calendar rolls back around to the exact date on which something special or extraordinary happened, we pause to remember, sometimes joyfully reliving pleasant memories, and at other times sadly reflecting upon painful ones.  Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, dates on which loved ones passed on from this life, July 4, December 7, etc., typically evoke emotions and commemorations in our culture. 

I wonder how the apostles and other early disciples felt as the first Passover approached in the year following Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension.  They had to have terribly missed the Lord’s physical presence among them.  But, exciting things were happening. The Holy Spirit had come with great power and enabling, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was being boldly proclaimed despite threats and punishment, and the Jerusalem church continued to experience explosive, exponential growth.

Yet, they had to have remembered what transpired a year earlier.  Yes, they continued to observe a weekly feast of bread and wine in memory of the Savior’s sacrificed body and His atoning, life-giving blood.  And, no, Jesus had not left them instructions about any annual observances as had been the case under the covenant with Israel given at Sinai. 

Still, it would have been natural for those who had walked with Him to have recalled the previous year’s jubilant entry into Jerusalem, the teaching and healing in the Temple, the upper room, Gethsemane, the shock of Ju-das’ treacherous betrayal, the arrest, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, the scourging, the mockery and abuse, the agonizing walk to Golgotha, the darkness, the earthquake, the burial, that somber Sabbath, the empty tomb, and the living, breathing Jesus once again standing in their midst.

“Could that really have been a year ago?” they may have wondered.

Almost 2,000 years later, we still remember.  We still stand amazed.  We still thank God for His indescribable gift.  We still rejoice over the empty tomb and offer praise for the risen Savior.  We still anxiously await His return.

Christ is risen; He is risen indeed!

 

(I shared the following thoughts before Communion in our worship assembly this morning.)

September 11, 2001, is a date that cannot be forgotten.  It was a tragically defining moment for our nation, and, in many ways, for the entire world.  Things have never been the same since.  Today, 10 years later, if you are traveling by air, the gauntlet of security that you have to pass through is directly related to that day.  Today, if you have a loved one serving in the military in Afghanistan or Iraq, they are on that foreign soil as a direct result of the events of that day.  The visual images and the emotional impact of what happened on 9/11 have been permanently etched into our consciousness.

It was a day of violence and bloodshed; an outbreak of evil resulting in untold suffering by the innocent; a day that caused people to ask questions like, “How could this be permitted by an all-powerful, all-loving God?” and “What good can ever come out of such a tragedy?”  But, it was also a day that unified our nation and galvanized our resolve.  Regardless of our various personal backgrounds, ethnicities, accents, and political ideologies, we were Americans, and we stood together that day. 

It is hard to imagine the impact of 9/11 diminishing with time, but it inevitably will; not to ever be entirely forgotten, but, in future decades, it will become increasingly more historical and cerebral in nature, and less personal and emotional, just as has been the case with December 7, 1941 (70 years ago; a defining event for my grandparents’ generation) and November 22, 1963 (a turning point for my parents’ generation).  To some of you, those dates are extremely meaningful and deeply personal, because you lived through those events.  To those of us who are younger, they are certainly identifiable and notable dates, but framed within the context of a distant, historical past. 

Not ten years ago, but about 1,980 years ago, there was another day of violence and bloodshed; an outbreak of evil that resulted in untold suffering by the truly Innocent One; a day that caused people, especially the closest followers of Jesus, to question, “How could this be permitted by an all-powerful and all-loving God?”  “What good can ever come out of this tragedy?”

But, the passing of nearly 2,000 years has not diminished the memory of that day in the least.  On the contrary, the number of those who memorialize the death that took place at Golgotha has never decreased, but has multiplied exponentially with every passing year.  The passage of two millennia has not caused the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world to pass into obscurity, but has only resulted in increased reflection, meditation, understanding, and clarity through the centuries; an event that is relived, reenacted, and celebrated every single Lord’s Day in the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the wine.

This is a memorial meal that unifies us, regardless of our personal backgrounds, ethnicities, accents, and political ideologies.  We are Christians.  The blood that flowed from Jesus that day, the sacrifice that cleanses us from all sin, has made us one.

This we do today, because we remember.  This we do today, because the world has never been the same.

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