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Let us work hard every day at making progress toward God ... We are Christians, and our homeland is not here. Like good children, let us turn our steps homeward, that our course may be approved and guided to its conclusion.

St. Augustine, Sermon 16

In nothing should we put our trust but in the Lord, who will be our strength, and will work all things in us. Therefore should we praise Him and thank Him, that He alone may be our song.

Martin Luther, On Psalm 118.14

For a small income, a long journey is undertaken; for everlasting life, many will scarce once in lift a foot from the ground.

Thomas á Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

You have everything to encourage you. Thousands have walked in the way you are invited to enter, and have found it good ...

J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion, on Happiness

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door-frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire--head, legs and inner parts. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD's Passover. "On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn--both men and animals--and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD--a lasting ordinance.

Exodus 12.1-14

The story of the first Passover is so familiar to many Christians that they forget why it is recorded in the Bible. The whole purpose of this communal meal, which is still celebrated today, is to remind Israel that God has acted in history to save His people. Technically, the Passover meal is a ritual and many Christians believe that rituals are "dead acts" of no significance to true believers. Popular as this view is, it has no sanction in Scripture. Throughout the Bible believers are constantly reminded that they have a duty to remember the great acts of God. To this end God provides us with aids to prompt our memory. For Jews the Passover and other historical events are commemorated on a regular basis through acts that involve the retelling of God's story in a way that structures their entire life.

For Christians the communion service is similar to the Passover. It is an act, commanded by Jesus, that is performed "in remembrance." When we go to communion we are not simply meeting other believers, singing hymns, or hearing sermons, we are obeying the command of Jesus to remember his sacrifice for us.

Thus for both Jews and Christians a commemorative meal is linked to a key historical event that forms the basis of faith. These examples show very clearly that Christians ought not to shy away from allowing physical things to bring us to a remembrance of "what God has done." God created the physical world and is the Lord of History. Thus He uses all of our senses to bring us to Himself. Today we can learn from the Jewish people what it means to remember God's great deeds.

Day: 1- 2 - 3

These readings are based on a) John E. Rotelle O.S.A's., excellent Augustine Day by Day, (New York, Catholic Book Publishing, 1986). Permission to use these passages has been sought, although I believe what I have used falls within a "fair use" policy; b) Various works of Martin Luther (1483-1546); c) Thomas á Kempis (1380-1471); d) Anglican Bishop J. C. Ryle's (1816-1900) Holiness (18??) or Practical Religion (1900); e) Zondervan's New International Version of the Bible.

Copyright Irving Hexham 2001