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The Memorial of Christ's Death

[This post pertains to the 2007 Memorial Celebration of Christ's death, The date of succeeding ones will likely be different.]

For the first time in memory, congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses are inviting people to the celebrate with them the memorial of Christ's death, this year to be observed Monday April 2nd, after sundown. Of course, we've long invited persons of known interest to the memorial, but this year the invitation goes out to everyone. A special flyer is prepared for the purpose.

Christ's birthday (Christmas) and resurrection (Easter) are the two religious holidays folks never miss, the only time many of them set ever foot in a church. Oddly, Jesus never said a word about either. The one event he did say should be remembered, the anniversary of his death, is ignored.

"Keep doing this in remembrance of me," he instructed his disciples, only hours before his death, during the meal commonly called the 'Last Supper.'      Luke 22:19

But isn't celebrating his resurrection close enough? That date's only three days after his death. Besides, it's more upbeat. Death, we all know, is a downer. Yes, but if you're trying to impress upon people that "Christ died for us," then the death is what you celebrate. Just like if someone shoves you out of the road so as not to get hit by a Buick, and gets hit themselves, that is the event that is forever seared into your memory. If it turns out that the doctors are able to patch him up like new, well....that's great news, but it's not the event you remember with gratitude.

Besides, no one should think that Easter (or Christmas) is in any way pure. The holiday is laced with things that have nothing to do with Christ and come from decidedly non-Christian sources. Bunny rabbits? Chocolate eggs? Great fun for the kids, maybe, but they don't do much for commemorating Christ. Even the name "Easter" is derived from a host of fertility goddesses associated with springtime (when earth becomes fertile) rites of many ancient peoples.

I suppose you could argue that "keep doing this in remembrance of me" is fulfilled in the communion services of some churches, in which participants partake of the wine and wafers. But if you're going to remember something, you generally do it once a year, like Memorial Day, like Independence Day, like Thanksgiving. In fact, the original celebration of Jesus and his disciples was held on an already existing anniversary, the Passover, which event recalled measures the Jews took just preceding their escape from Egyptian slavery. Subsequently, Jesus is referred to in Scripture as "Christ, our Passover," which further cements the "once a year" notion.      1 Cor. 5:7

The Jewish Passover is celebrated on Nisan 14, that date being determined from the ancient lunar calendar used back then. Jehovah's Witnesses hold the Memorial of Christ's death on that same date, after sundown. It's always a full moon outside. Being based on the lunar calendar means that Nisan 14 can fall on any day of the week. This is a major pain in the neck to more secular societies which have learned to "keep religion in it's place." (last place)  Doubtless that's one reason Easter Sunday is preferred to Nisan 14: it always falls on Sunday and is thus easier to fit in.

Typically, attendance at the Memorial runs two and a half times that of the number of active Jehovah's Witnesses. What sort of impact will this new campaign have?

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Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Comments

Screech

You're right, that is something new in a sense. I've always found it encouraging that in today's fractured world, there is a group of people who are in agreement on Biblical teachings. I personally plan to attend this year.

Robbie Sims

I always remember seeing invitations to join the witnesses at Kingdom Halls for the "Memorial" in the Watchtower and Awake! Magazines as long as I can remember. I am not a Jehovah's
Witness, however I grew up next door to a fine witness family. I found them exemplary in doing God's will.

tom sheepandgoats

For sure, the invitation has long been extended to all through the magazines. Last year, though, it became a special tract to be hand delivered to as many as possible, preferably at their homes. The same thing is happening this year (2008).

C.Douglas

This year 2008 the memorial will be held on March 22 after sundown. If interested contact one of Jehovah's Witnesses in your area.

George P

You do realize, don't you, that Christ's death would mean absolutely nothing, had he not been resurrected and ascended into heaven, thereby conquering sin and death and foiling the devil's plot against humankind?

tom sheepandgoats

No, I don't think so.

John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

God "gave his only begotten Son." The resurrection is not the gift. The death is. The resurrection is a reward for a faithful life course, which benefits both Jesus and us. But the death is what saves from sin, completely offsetting Adam's sin (the only other perfect man). Adam, by his rebelling, forfeits life for all his offspring; Jesus by sacrifice of his perfect life, buys it back. All that is necessary is to put faith in that arrangement.

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 1 Cor 15:45

Don't misunderstand. It's good that Jesus is resurrected. His authority is expanded; it is he who administers the benefits of his sacrifice for sins. After his resurrection, for example, "Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Matt 28:18) It is he whom God appoints judge of living and dead. But the ransom price for mankind's sins would have been paid by his death even had he not been resurrected.

More on how his death benefits us: http://carriertom.typepad.com/sheep_and_goats/2006/07/the_first_and_t.html


BillinDetroit

Tom, glad you posted the above.

As a note to your readers, the date of the Memorial for 2009 is April 9 (after sundown, local time -- but arrive at least an hour early if you want a seat).

I would also point out to George P that the resurrection wouldn't have been possible without the death. Both events were, at their proper moment, necessary. But we are in a new age ... those prophecies have already been fulfilled and much time has passed. While not being disobedient to the past, we must live with an eye to the future fulfilments of the rest of the prophetic body.

Michael Talley

Tom.

Please write more often.
You have brains and humor
inciting my hunger for more.

Sincerely Michael

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