The Remembrance of the Lord

Those who follow the LSB Daily Lectionary (also used in the Treasury of Daily Prayer) recently heard the story of the Flood from Genesis. At the beginning of chapter 8, “God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark.” And again, at the conclusion of the Flood account, God established the rainbow as His Covenant with Noah and his family, and with every living creature; it was the sign and seal of His promise, “that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11). Then God declared: “When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember My Covenant that is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh. . . . I will see it and remember the everlasting Covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth” (Genesis 9:14-16).

This is significant and comforting language, which is echoed at various points throughout the Old Testament and brought to fulfillment most poignantly in the Incarnate Son, Christ Jesus. The Lord God remembers, not emotionally or intellectually, but actively and tangibly. He remembers His people and His promises, His mercy, and His Covenant; and in every case, His remembering means that He is actively present to save His people, to serve them and care for them, to provide for their needs and defend them from all evil. Numerous examples are found throughout the Old Testament, in which God is remembering His people, or His people are praying and confessing that He will remember them in mercy. We find this language in the Psalms (78:39, 98:3, 105:8, 105:42, 106:45, 112:6, 119:52, 136:23), in St. Mary’s Magnificat (St. Luke 1:54), and in St. Zechariah’s Benedictus (St. Luke 1:72). Indeed, Zechariah’s name means “God remembers.”

I first became aware of this emphasis on God’s remembering in a conversation with Dr. Nagel on the Lord’s Supper, in particular the Words of Our Lord, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:24, 25). Dr. Nagel pointed to the work of Joachim Jeremias (The Eucharistic Words of Jesus), and more importantly, to the various Old Testament examples such as I have noted above. And in his typical fashion, he encouraged me to consider who is doing the remembering, first of all, in the administration and celebration of the Sacrament. That conversation was eye-opening to me in many ways, certainly with respect to the Lord’s Supper, but so also in a more general sense. The Lord is the One who carries the freight. The Lord is the One who remembers us in mercy, and who thereby calls us and enables us to know Him and love Him, to remember Him in faith.

How often do we become distracted by the cares and occupations of this body and life on earth, so that we end up forgetting (whether passively or actively) the Word and promises of the Lord our God, His grace and mercy, and His steadfast loving-kindness. Yet, He does not forget us, nor does He forget the Word that He has spoken and the promises He has made. He forgives all our sins and remembers them no more (Jeremiah 31:34), but He remembers His Covenant forever (Psalm 105:8). And He has established His Covenant with us and for us, not only in the rainbow, as a pledge and promise never again to flood the earth, but in the Body and Blood of Jesus, given and poured out for us Christians to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

The remembrance of the Lord is not an abstraction, nor is it a matter of nostalgia or a noetic exercise. He actively remembers us by feeding us with His own holy Body and precious Blood, along with the preaching of His Cross and Resurrection and the promise of His coming. And so do we remember Him by hearing, believing, and confessing what He speaks to us, and by eating and drinking the sacred Food and Drink of His Supper in repentant faith and with thanksgiving.