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The Audacity of Changing Pointers ! !

Leafing through the Hillbilly, I see pictures of places, events, and people. The Hillbilly was a gift from Lee Edwards High School in Asheville, NC. On its pages are pictures of and notes from friends. Standing behind those notes and pictures are events and people. The pictures and notes are pointers I use to keep the past organized and useful as I live in the present.

A similar thing happens as I twist the ring around my finger. It is hard; it is durable. The MTYLTT initials are still easily legible. The ring and the letters are pointers helping me keep today’s life organized, coherent, and significant.

The pointer – be it a wedding ring, be it a yearbook from high school, be it the baby’s book from one of my daughter’s infancy, be it a transcript from an educational institution, be it a sling shot I made from the “y” shaped fork limbs of a dogwood tree in the Western North Carolina Smokey Mountains – they all have a fixed connection. That sling shot in my hand points me back to trips from Asheville to Akron, Ohio, when my brother and I would shoot stones at road signs out the back windows of our family car. There were no such things as video games to keep young boys occupied on those long, hot summer days. But, slingshots, and stones gathered from the gravel at the gas stations and put into a sock as our ammo bag – that would do the trick for restless boys.

What we can’t do with pointers is change them so they are pointing to something else. Imagine going down the road, and you see a sign along the highway with the words, “Wall Drug” – 150 miles ahead.”   What happens if all of a sudden the “Wall Drug” signs are now pointing us toward Hoover Dam, or to Chicago, or to the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota?   That doesn’t work, we say. And we are correct. We don’t change the reference point of an established pointer. Of course not. It isn’t complicated, is it?

Then, we run across a situation that challenges our thinking about pointers and references, and about the person or people who set up the pointers / signs. And, believe it or not, the person is Jesus. It happened during a very poignant gathering Jesus had with a dozen close friends. The event is described in Luke 22, in the Bible. It is also mentioned in the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11.

It was the night before Jesus died. They were gathered to celebrate Passover. The meal had a “pointer” feature. The participants recalled an event from about 1400 years before in Jewish history. At a particular moment in the meal, Jesus did what must have been completely foreign to his friends. Referring to some bread that was at the meal, and referring to some wine that was also at the meal (both the bread and the wine serving as pointers to the Exodus event those 1400 years before), Jesus said:

“This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” . . . . “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, whenever you drink it do so in remembrance of me.”

Let’s keep in mind that Jesus was not starting with a blank slate and tying a new pointer / memory to a new event. Rather, He was taking an already existing pointers (the eating of the bread, and, the drinking of the wine) and telling the apostles to transform those pointers to a completely different event!!!

Jesus was telling them to re-associate the meal (the pointer) with a different event – the Jesus event that would culminate with Jesus’ death, His resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit into the corporate life of the Jesus people!!

Jesus was telling them to reorganize memories. Reorganizing what comes to our mind when we recall events from the past!!

Consider what it would mean for a patriotic Jew to change the connotation of the Passover meal from leaving Egypt and entering the Promised Land to the Passover meal being tied to the Jesus event. Wow!!

Contextualize it this way – Picture a crowd of people on July 4th, some of the folk being vets, and they look at the raised flag and hear the boom, boom , boom of the salutes, and Jesus tells them to develop new associations – From now on, the July 4 festivities are to point toward Jesus, not to a particular event in the United States history!!! — Can you imagine someone saying that? Not only would it be considered, by many, to be unpatriotic, but it would also be considered a sign of psychological problems!!

And, Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” when you eat the meal that for centuries has pointed to the freedom march to the new land. Now, you are to eat the meal thinking about me, about what I have done for you and what I am preparing for you”

How audacious on Jesus’ part!! And, what a tribute to what Jesus can do by making us able to associate new events with old pointers!!

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