Originally scheduled for January 20
Sir Winston Churchill, in his memoirs of World
War II, recounts an incident which occurred after his first visit to
the United States during the war. On the return trip (in a
battleship) he stopped in Iceland. The United States had just
started to take over the defense of Iceland, and Churchill was
invited to review the troops of both the United States and Great
Britain who were on the island. Apparently the commanders wanted to
give the world the impression that there were far more troops than
actually were available. They arranged Churchill’s review to be a
march in a column of threes — thus taking a great deal more time
than would usually be required.
Sir Winston recorded the fact that the march
was accompanied by a band playing the marching song of the US Marine
Corps, “United States Marines.” He tells us that the tune “bit so
deeply into my memory that I could not get it out of my head.” Have
you ever had a song do that to you? Most of us have, and it can be
quite annoying. We might pause and ask why.
The human memory is a rather complicated thing,
but we can see in this instance three very good reasons why the tune
got stuck in his head.
Repetition. It was a long
march and the band had to repeat the tune quite a number of times.
Focus. It’s not like the
band was playing in the background, or that he was listening to
elevator music. He was reviewing these troops; you’re supposed to be
paying attention when you do that.
Simplicity. As a form of
music, the march is not noted for its complexity. All marches have
the same meter and tempo. They are designed to keep everyone in
step. That doesn’t allow for a lot of complexity.
Communion, in its own way, uses the same
elements. It’s not something that we do once; depending upon what
church group you belong to, it can be administered weekly or even
daily. Most denominations do it frequently, so it is not a rare
event but repeated one. When we put have communion, it is the focus
of every Christian’s attention. It is the center point of worship.
We do it in an atmosphere of calm and quiet, so that all can focus
their thoughts on the meaning and purpose of communion. When done
correctly, there is nothing else going on to compete with it; it’s
the only thing were doing at the time.
It is also a model of simplicity. The bread
represents the body of our Lord; the cup, his blood. It is designed
to be a symbolic picture of the suffering of Christ on the Cross. In
short, when our Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper he meant for it to
be something you would remember. Therefore, Christian, let it bite
deeply into your memory, so that it will not go out of your head.
Take, eat and remember.