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Sermons from Emmanuel Presbyterian Church - Nashville

Oct
13
2019

Saying Good-Bye Part 2: Anamnesis and Eucharistia—We Remember and Give Thanks

Posted 35 days ago ago by Scott Huie

“Saying Good-Bye Part 2:

Anamnesis and Eucharistia—We Remember and Give Thanks”

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Scott Huie

Emmanuel Presbyterian Church

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 thanks.

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.