Celebration Service at National City Christian Church
November 4, 2017
Rev. Allen V. Harris
Regional Minister, Christian Church (Disciples Of Christ) Capital Area
“When you do this, remember me.”
In this moment at that table our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ commissioned us all to be historians! Table ordained historians! To recall, to remember, to re-embody, to relive the person and life of Jesus Christ to new generations.
But Jesus never meant this to be simply a heady thing, an esoteric exercise that we forget once we leave the library, or the archives room, or Bethany, WV. The remembering Jesus calls us to at this table of Holy Communion is one that demands that we live what we remember. To re-member the Body.
Bringing to our minds the captivating vision of Ezekiel, Jesus expects our shared memories to reattach sinew on bone, to pulse blood through veins once empty, to fill our lungs with air, and to electrify neurons with Holy Spirit Power. No, this is no dusty book reminiscence of golden age memories, but a call to allow what we remember to change the very way we live. And Jesus expects us to do the same with the saints of God!
And isn’t that what happened last night in this very space? The Rev. Dr. Delores Carpenter so beautifully brought to life, re-membered, shared with us passionately and skillfully the life and ministry of the Rev. Dr. Carnella Barnes! Surely Dr. Carpenter did not do all that work interviewing Dr. Barnes, researching, advocating for the story of Dr. Barnes to be shared in order for us to smile politely after the lecture, nod our heads, and simply say, “Oh, I never knew anything about her.”
Isn’t that what we do here today dedicating an exhibit of the rich deep history of African American Disciples Of Christ in the name of one of the finest saints, Oscar Haynes?
If we did not leave the lecture last night changed by what we heard, then we have failed the call that Jesus gave us to re-member the Body of Christ! We have failed our sister in the faith, our church, and, more importantly, our own calling for we must be transformed by the lives of the saints of God so that we can fulfill our own calling more fully, honestly, and effectively.
If we leave this dedication service failing to allow Oscar’s life to change us forever, we fail him and his Christ.
If we leave this table of Holy Communion unchanged by what we have experienced here, then we have failed our Lord & Savior and might as well have never come. Forget it all!
But I know that is not the case. I know last night those of you who heard of the amazing life of Dr. Barnes will do your work and ministry differently because her “splendid torch” burned so brightly, even in the face of such resistance and racism. I know those of you whose lives have been warmed by the smile and countenance of Oscar Haynes cannot help but be and move differently in this world because of his wisdom, guidance, and counsel.
I also know that you have come to this table knowing full well as a true historian that you will not simply recall that night on which our Lord & Savior gathered with his Disciples in an upper room, but that you will be transformed – yet again – and forever more.
Come, all ye historians of the faith! Remember!