by Amber Mann Riggs
Dishes pile up, noisy disagreements echo off of toddler-decorated walls, my newsfeed baits and agitates and broadcasts destruction and heartache. I pick yet another wayward Lego off the floor as my teeth clench to narrowly avoid lashing out in frustration. Today, it is so easy to forget that tonight, we remember.
We remember that…
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink, in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
We remember His death, yes, and the details of that night. The death part is emblazoned on our minds from the graphic details of the gospels.
But the memory can’t stop there or else we’ll be deceived into thinking that he suffered, died, and resurrected merely to give us an ethereal life after death.
No, we must remember that in making this new covenant Jesus Himself was remembering an ancient covenant that was demolished by another meal long, long ago.
In making this new covenant Jesus was remembering an ancient covenant that was demolished by another meal long, long ago.
We remember that in the beginning…
Searching the mind of Christ, we remember that in the beginning, God created a beautiful home for humanity. And it was good.
Then, in the midst of that home, God planted a garden that He called “Delight” (Eden). And this garden was not just good—it was holy. It functioned as a temple, a place in which God Himself walked and made His presence at home. The priests who bore His image mirrored God’s perfect rule over the temple-garden and all of the creatures that lived there.
God and His priests had an agreement—a covenant. That is, they had a common goal, and both sides had a role to play in meeting that goal. What was their goal? With God’s partnership, the priests would procreate new priests, and as their number increased, they would slowly cultivate God’s perfect rule until the whole earth became a place of God’s holy delight. Through humans, God would bless the entire earth.
But the priests staged a coup. They didn’t want God’s rule; they wanted to rule on their own terms.
With two fatal bites, humans declared that the Edenic covenant was broken.
And in that meal, the ability to image God and enact perfect rule shattered like a mirror.
We remember God’s faithfulness…
We remember that chaos overtook earth, and yet, how the story of the Bible is the narrative of God amazingly not abandoning His covenant with humanity. Despite humanity’s unfaithfulness, God would remain faithful to this covenant. Through His prophets, God reassured us that His perfect rule would still be cultivated over the entirety of earth, until the whole earth became a place of God’s holy delight. And significantly, priests who bore His image would mirror God’s perfect rule over this temple-home and all of the creatures that live here. Partnering with humans, God would still bless the entire earth.
Time and again, he established partnerships with humanity for the purpose of blessing the earth. He covenanted with Abraham, with Moses, with the Israelites, with the explicit purpose of blessing the earth. But despite directions that spoke directly to their contexts, humanity dramatically demonstrated that we cannot image God and enact His perfect rule. Blessing the earth is beyond our benevolence.
But tonight—tonight we remember that God took it upon Himself to fulfill humanity’s side of this intended partnership…and in doing so establish a new covenant. An everlasting covenant.
We remember that in Jesus, God once again had a place of delight on earth. And this place, Jesus’ body, was not just good—it was holy. It was the true temple; thus, wherever Jesus walked, God Himself walked and made His presence at home. As the true High Priest, Jesus bore God’s image and mirrored God’s perfect rule over creation.
And we remember that in drinking in His Life, and inviting His Body to transform ours so that it becomes part of His…our bodies too become places of God’s delight on earth. That these fleshly places become holy temples that carry God’s presence into the world. As priests, we bear the image of Christ and join with Him in mirroring God’s rule over creation.
We remember our covenant with God through Christ…
Tonight, we remember that, through Christ, we are in covenant with God. And we take the cup and break, drinking of His Life and eating of His Body as physical reminders that this isn’t just a heavenly covenant but is a muddy, earthy one. It’s a covenant in which His life empowers ours to partner with God in laying the groundwork of a new creation that will slowly cultivate God’s perfect rule until the whole earth—dirt and all—becomes a place of God’s holy delight.
That through Christ in us, God will indeed bless the entire earth.
That when dishes pile up, noisy disagreements echo off of toddler-decorated walls, my news feed baits and agitates and shouts of destruction and heartache, and I pick yet another wayward Lego off the floor as my teeth clench to narrowly avoid lashing out in frustration…
It’s not I that live but Christ that lives within me. Sin doesn’t have to conquer me because Christ has conquered sin.[ref]Galations 2:19-21[/ref]
We can bless and not perpetuate the curse…
For tonight, we remember.