On Easter, my husband and I visited a church in Tampa.
Located smack in the middle of the nightclub district of Ybor City, it’s an urban church that attracts young people with its industrial warehouse look, its nightclub lighting, loud rock music, free food and emphasis on Jesus rather than the extraneous stuff that doesn’t matter.
As my friend Steve would say, the place smelled like Jesus.
And thanks to a pair of complimentary ear plugs offered to us as we walked in, we thoroughly enjoyed the service.
Last Sunday we went back.
On that day, the entire service was about communion. The pastor talked about how Jesus invited his closest friends to a Passover meal, the one we call the Last Supper, the one that took place the night before he died.
At that meal, first Jesus washed his friends’ feet. Then he broke the bread and gave a piece to each man present at the table, even the one who would betray him. He told them, “This bread is my body, which is broken for you.”
Next, he lifted up the goblet of wine and said, “This is my blood, the new covenant between God and his people” (1 Corinthians 11:24,25 my paraphrase).
Jesus also told them, “Whenever you eat this bread and drink this wine, do it in remembrance of me.”
The pastor said that’s what communion is for, for remembering Jesus.
He said that as we go about our lives and our busyness, it’s not so much that we forget Jesus, but that we forget to remember him.
That statement struck me: We — I — forget to remember Jesus.
“We are prone to spiritual memory loss,” the pastor said. “We forget that he still performs miracles; he still gives us hope; he still gives new life. And he asked us to remember him.”
A few years ago, I wrote a column about trying to remember Jesus. I had felt the memory of him fading, and I desperately wanted to get it back.
So, I picked up my dusty Bible and flipped through its pages and re-remembered his compassion for the immoral women of his day, how kindly he treated them as he offered them forgiveness and dignity. I re-remembered how he raised the dead only son of a poor widow, brought a little girl back to life, cast demons out of a man and made the blind to see.
I re-remembered his words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” “Your sins are forgiven” and “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
This morning, too, still tasting in my memory the bread and the tart grape juice of last Sunday’s communion, I purposed to remember Jesus.
As I dressed for work and dried my hair, as I packed my lunch and backed my car out of the garage, as I stopped to get gas and drove away, I remembered how he has never forgotten me.
That’s what the pastor had said. That even when we forget to remember him, Jesus never forgets us. He always remembers his own.
I remembered how Jesus has remembered me. Even before I knew him, he knew me and was with me, remembering me when I was young and lonely and afraid.
All the times I chose to do wrong, all the times I tried in vain to control the universe without him, all the times I turned to a lesser god for comfort and meaning that inevitably failed me, he remembered me.
This is what I wrote on Christmas Eve 2009:
“It’s Christmas, and I’m trying hard to remember Jesus, to think about how he set aside his glory and entered the world as a helpless human, to remember his poverty, the lowliness he chose to endure — all because he remembered me.
“Because he remembered me, he suffered. He died.
“Because he remembered me, he was buried. He rose.
“He remembered me from the beginning, remembered me all through my life, and even if I try to forget him, I can’t.”
Last Sunday, we had communion. We walked up to the front of the warehouse church, lights dimmed, music loud. We took the bread that was broken, as Jesus was broken, and dipped it into the substitutionary blood that was shed for us.
As we did, we remembered Jesus, remembered him because he first remembered us.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.