The Importance of Remembrance
Why are wedding anniversaries important? Well, although I cannot appeal to a chapter-and-verse of Scripture to set that record straight once and for all I can provide an opinion that I think most would agree with, one that goes beyond simply saying – so we don’t forget when it happened. I would commend the celebrating of wedding anniversaries as a way to remember, not simply an occasion, but the affections you felt on that occasion. That kind of remembering has a way of rekindling – it helps you feel fresh affections as you recall old ones through current lenses.
That’s part of the reason why the LORD ordered the children of Israel to perennially celebrate the Passover. See, every year the Jewish people were to commemorate the Passover Feast, in part, by eating the Passover meal. As Jewish families celebrated the meal it was about far more than satiating their appetites, it was about jogging their memories. Year after year they would look back to what became, perhaps, the landmark moment in the OT history of Israel – the night where the Lord’s angel “passed over” the households of the people of Israel but inflicted death upon the firstborn in all the households of Egypt, prompting Israelite deliverance from Egyptian bondage. The difference between the two was not the difference between moral excellence and moral insufficiency. Israel wasn’t spared because they accrued enough ethical merit or passed some kind of ‘good nation test.’ The only difference between the Egyptian families and the Israelite families on that night was the presence of the blood of a spotless lamb. Those who had the blood of a specifically-prescribed, sacrificed lamb upon the doorposts of their house were spared and, shortly thereafter, set free from Egyptian bondage to move in the direction of the land of promise.
While this was a singular event in history, it was to be commemorated annually so that it might remembered perpetually. When children asked their parents, “What does this ceremony mean to you” (Ex. 12:26b NIV), the response would come forth:
It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians. (vs.27 NIV)
In light of the catechization of children, and in light of all the specific elements of rehearsal for every Israelite to see during the Passover celebration, this singular event was to be recalled and remembered by subsequent Jewish generations so that the memory of the redemption that Yahweh had wrought would be freshly embraced and not forgotten.
Fast forward to the night on which Jesus was to be betrayed. He told His twelve apostles, ‘With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer’ (Lk. 22:15). The setting, then, for the institution of the Lord’s Supper was the Passover meal. But on that night Jesus would infuse some of the familiar elements of the meal with new significance. As a result, His people would commemorate a new exodus, a deliverance much greater than freedom from the bondage of Egypt; His people would commemorate the deliverance from the penalty and power of sin. And after hundreds and hundreds of years of the same celebration, the familiar elements of bread and wine would become infused with fresh meaning. And while the Passover feast had always been a feast of remembrance, now, with the institution of the Lord’s Supper the focal point of remembrance would not simply be an event, but a Person – Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24,25). Just like a soldier who, upon leaving for war, made sure that his bride had a photo of himself to keep close to her so as to remember him until he returned, so the Lord Jesus Christ has provided this precious token of remembrance for His bride, the church, until He comes again.