When a US Navy vessel arrives or departs from the military bases in Pearl Harbor, the crew of that ship lines up in dress uniform. They stand at attention at arm’s length on the outer edges of the deck, in salute to the soldiers, sailors, and civilians who died on December 7, 1941. It is a stirring sight, and participants often list it among the most memorable moments of their military career.
Even for spectators on shore, the salute triggers an incredible emotional connection, but especially between the servants of today and the servants of yesterday. It grants nobility to the work of today’s sailor, while giving dignity to the sacrifice of those from the past.
When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26-29), it was surely with an eye toward creating this same kind of emotional bond. Our participation in the Lord’s Table honors His sacrifice while also granting us a connection to Him unlike any other act of remembrance.
Just as the Navy carefully prescribes the way it salutes the fallen, so too Scripture teaches us how to remember Jesus’ sacrifice (1 Cor. 11:26-28). These acts of reverence and thanksgiving serve to honor past action while giving purpose to present service.