Posted 99 days ago ago by Scott Huie
“Saying Good-Bye Part 2:
Eucharistia—We Remember and Give Thanks”
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
October 13th 2019
(Show the Last Supper scene from “The Passion of the Christ.”)
What in the world do I say for my last sermon here after three
years in this beloved place? Being an interim, one is
supposed to get in, get out, hold the church together for a short time
until the permanent pastor is in place. An interim is not
supposed to last three years. An interim is not supposed to
create such bonds between the pastor and his parishioners. I never knew
this would be this difficult. Can I even make it through the next
twenty minutes and hold it all together? What words do I share at such
a time as this as I say good-bye to you?
Today, we conclude our two-week sermon series on “Saying
Good-Bye.” Last week, we talked about life being a series of
good-byes, of letting-go. It begins with the cutting of your
umbilical cord and extends all the way to when you draw your last
breath. We constantly say good-bye to people, places,
opportunities, circumstances, phases of life. We
discussed how some good-byes are easy, but often they are hard,
especially at first.
Saying good-bye is such a profound and prevalent part of what
it means to be human and to live in relationships, especially in such a
mobile society as ours. Saying good-bye to you, I am finding,
is one of the most difficult good-byes I have ever gone through.
Well again, what do I say at such a time as this?
The temptation is to reach back to the past and reminisce and swim
around in the pool of memories, and okay, I’ll do a little of that, but
hopefully not too much. The temptation is also to do my
darndest to give you my hopefully Holy Spirit-inspired gems of wisdom
for the future. But I refuse to yield to that temptation, at
least in part.
Rather, I feel compelled this morning to take hold of two
Greek words from our scripture reading, words that are central to the
faith, central to this day and this place and this pulpit and this
table. The words are Anamnesis and Eucharistia. Say
them with me. Repeat after me, Anamnesis (Anamnesis);
Eucharistia (Eucharistia). Good! Anamnesis means
remembrances. The word amnesia means to lose your
remembrances. Eucharistia means thanksgiving. This
is the table of thanksgiving. We know it as Holy Communion,
the Lord’s Supper, and in some traditions, like among our Episcopal
brethren, it is also called the Eucharist, the meal of
thanksgiving. Anamnesis and Eucharistia. To
remember and give thanks. Indeed as I stand before you today
sharing my last sermon, I remember, and I give thanks.
I look out and I see at least in my mind’s eye Spenser
Aden. From the get-go, I realized he was a pillar of this
church even for the first few weeks when I was just a guest
preacher. He invited me to Red Lobster one night to explore
the possibilities of my staying with this church as interim.
It was a great night of fellowship. He had me at those Red
Lobster cheddar biscuits that he fed me. I remember, and I give thanks.
I look out and I see Bill and Bette Bryant. As most
of you know, Bill was my pastor way back when I was a child.
He was the first to show me that a pastor could be actually
cool. And then I had the privilege of travelling for a month
with Bill and Bette to China way back in 1994 as part of a delegation
from Columbia Seminary. And then on the first Sunday I
preached here, I walk in and see you two. Right away, this
place felt like home. And Bill has been a perfect mentor for
me in ministry, a counselor, a sounding board, a colleague of great
wisdom and, with Bette, great love. I remember, and I give
I look out and I see Richard and Diana Braud, who have shared
with me an incredible gift of hospitality. They’ve had me
over three times to their home, and each time I feasted like a king. I
look out and I see Jan Russell. Church does not start until
Jan walks in, so don’t complain to me when worship goes over a few
moments. It’s Jan’s fault. I look out and
I see the Roaches, Wes, Laura, and Birdie, you have brought so much
life to our church. Wes is a fraternity brother of mine from
Davidson, Laura has blessed us with her voice and her joy, and Birdie,
well she is one of a kind, the very definition of sass. I
look out and see Norris Hoover. What a pillar of this church,
and what a pillar in his family, an 81 years old going on 41.
I’ve always been curious of what he writes about during my
sermons. Is he taking notes, or writing out his grocery
list? I see Ginia and Terry, dear souls. Ginia has
such a heart for mission, and Terry’s laugh is one for the
ages! I remember and I give thanks.
I look out and I see Chuck and Elizabeth Todd, dear friends,
whom I’ve prayed with when there has been both sickness and death in
their family. I look out and see Lee and Debbi
Cannon. Lee has been one to stop by regularly for
conversation, and almost every time, I feel like I’m not just giving
pastoral care, but I am receiving it too. You are a dear,
dear friend. And I see behind you, Art Herron, who has
returned, a man who loves the church passionately. A picture
I will take with me forever is Art and Lee outside painting all the
lines of our parking lot. I look out and I see John Sevier
and Claire Cope. What a blessing they are to this
church. They are without a doubt the Tony Orlando and Dawn of
church music! I remember, and I give thanks.
I look out and I see the Takops, Alfred, Getty, Shammah,
Teddy, Jefferson, Michael, Elizabeth, and Dejon. I have never
seen a family more embraced by a church and more cherished by me
personally. Of course you’ve brought youthfulness to this
church and diversity too. But even more, you have brought to
this place an unparalleled example of what a God-fearing/loving family
is. Alfred and Getty, you two are truly amazing. Elizabeth, I
will miss swinging you around. Michael and Jefferson, you are
the best ever at shooting finger blasters and feeding communion bread
to the birds. And Teddy and Shammah, there are just too many
stories to share this morning from Confirmation to Great Escape to
Montreat and everything in between. I love you guys so much,
and will miss you all more than you will know, even all of Teddy’s
stupid questions. I remember, and I give thanks.
I look out and I see little Dejon and I see that baby bump on
Laura’s tummy. When I see them, I think of all the wonderful children
of this church, and I think how true it is that there is no greater
call—I repeat—there is no greater call than to raise our young people
to love Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Please,
please, please, keep that the focus of this church. I
remember, and I give thanks.
An I look out and see others. I could go on sharing
memories. I see joy, I see passion, I see faith, I see hope, I see
love. I see all of you, the church, the body of Christ. I see
young and old alike, children, youth, singles, married, widowed, middle
aged, elderly, black and white, male and female, liberal and
conservative, blue collar and white collar. But
beyond those labels, you know what I see? I see
family. I see people who are so full of love. I see
people I care for deeply, so many friends near and dear to my heart.
You have touched me in so many ways. My time here has
reinforced my conviction that God is not dead, not some relic of a
bygone era. But rather, God is alive and well and active
right here right now through the Holy Spirit. So I remember,
and I give thanks.
Finally, I see this table, and I remember the one to whom this
table belongs. He took bread and gave thanks. He
took the cup and gave thanks. Do this in remembrance of
me. The table of remembering, ANAMNESIS. The table
of giving thanks, EUCHARISTIA.
Paul passes on these words that Jesus used at the first last
supper. He sends them to the church at Corinth, a church torn
apart by factions, split into groups over certain issues, including
public worship. Apparently, when believers gathered and
shared a meal, the rich sat together with their sumptuous feast while
the poorer believers sat off by themselves sharing their crumbs. With
so much diversity dividing the church, Paul tells the people to tear
down those walls that divide. Out of many, we are one, and
what unites us, Paul says, is the death of Jesus Christ. We
who are different, rich and poor alike, are drawn together in unity by
the cross of our savior, a savior who gave thanks on the night before
he was to be crucified.
Did you ever stop and ask, for what did Jesus give
thanks? For the food and drink that was before him on the
table? For broken bread and poured wine pointing to that
brokenness and that pouring out at the cross? For the agony
of Gethsemane? Thanks? For the betrayal of his
disciples? For the denial of one of his best
friends? Thanks? For the lashes of the Roman
whip? For the crown of thorns? For the sword thrust into his
side? Thankful for these?
Or perhaps he gave thanks for remembrances of the Passover,
the Red Sea deliverance, the return from exile, or the promise of
future deliverance. Or perhaps he was giving thanks for the
band of brothers who were his disciples that he had spent the last
three years with, as mixed up as they might have been.
Jesus took bread—and gave thanks. He took the
cup—and gave thanks. Anamnesis and Eucharistia. I remember
him, and I give thanks. You remember him, and you give
thanks. We all as a community remember him, and we give
thanks. And we remember each other, and we give
thanks. I will always remember this church and give
thanks. Thanks be to God. Amen.