This year’s memorial talk struck me as the least appropriate commemoration discourse I’ve ever heard. It may just be my newfound enlightenment about the role of Christ in the outworking of God’s purpose, but I noticed how very little reference was made to Jesus and his work throughout the talk. His name was barely mentioned, and when it was it was incidental to the discussion itself. I wondered if this might just be the speaker’s preference, but upon review of the outline I came to believe that the Governing Body is ratcheting up their efforts to stifle what they must see as an alarming trend.

In 1935 there were over 52,000 partakers. That number dropped steadily (with the occasional hiccup) to just below 9,000 in 1986. For the next 20 years, it hovered between 8,000 and 9,000 stubbornly ignoring the death rate which for people of that age bracket should have dropped it significantly. Then in 2007 the number crept above the 9,000 mark and has been steadily climbing ever since with over 13,000 partaking last year. (It appears that some in the rank and file are ignoring the teaching of the Governing Body and engaging in a quiet revolt.) Therefore, in what I believe will be a vain effort to stifle awakening spirituality, the GB commissioned this outline.

A key statement in the 6 minute introduction segment is: “In obedience to Jesus’ command, millions in 236 lands will observe the Lord’s Evening Meal tonight.” At a casual glance this seems to be accurate, since a common meaning for the word “observe” is to keep or obey the tenets of some practice or ceremony. If someone says that they observe the Sabbath, you understand that they refrain from working on that day, not that they stand around looking at others who don’t work. Observing an annual event of any kind means doing something to demonstrate to others such an observance. What we are really saying however is that like the audience at a graduation ceremony, millions are mere spectators and actually do nothing more than “observe”.

So the foregoing sentence is teaching a falsehood, because it states that this act of quiet observance while abstaining is done in obedience to Jesus’ command. Here is Jesus’ command: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” “Keep doing this…” Doing what? Read please the context of this command at Luke 22:14-20 and see for yourself that there is no provision made for a group of non-partaking observers. Jesus never commanded his disciples to “observe” the Lord’s Evening Meal as spectators, but as participants.

Therefore a more accurate statement would be “In disobedience to Jesus’ command, millions in 236 lands will merely look on as others observe the Lord’s Evening Meal tonight.”

The remainder of the talk, with the exclusion of the passing of the emblems, deals with the promise of living forever in a paradise earth. We are reminded that we lost out on living forever because of Adam and now Christ has died so we can live forever on earth. Time is then spent to remind us how wonderful it will be to be young again, to be at peace with the animals, to see the sick healed and the dead raised.

So instead of taking time to focus on Christ; instead of holding forth the promise of being God’s children; instead of speaking about reconciliation with God; we talk about the material benefits for us.

This seems like a sales pitch. In effect, keep your eyes focused on the things of the earth and don’t be tempted to partake of the emblems.

The title of the talk was “Appreciate What Christ Has Done for You!” Together with the content, it reveals an thinly veiled agenda to get us to knuckle under and not obey Christ’s command to “keep doing this in memory” of him.

To accomplish this we engage in the time tested tactic of making a series of unsubstantiated categorical statements which the rank and file will accept unquestioningly.   If you feel you may fall into that category—I certainly did for decades of my life—please reason on these excerpts from the outline.

“The Bible describes two…hopes for faithful humans.” True, the vast majority of mankind will be resurrected to life on earth, but we are not talking about them. The outline refers to “faithful humans”, ergo, Christians. I would love for the Governing Body to provide Scriptures to back up this statement. Alas, none were given in the outline. None have ever been given.

“A limited number will receive everlasting life in heaven; the vast majority will enjoy life on a paradise earth…” Again, a categorical statement for which no Scriptural proof is given. Again, we are not discussing all of mankind, but only faithful Christians.

“[We] cannot ‘decide’ to be “born again” (Joh 3:5-8)” That is not what John 3:5-8 says.

“The vast majority of those attending the Lord’s Evening Meal do not have the heavenly hope” Actually, this one is true, but not for the reason they imply. The truth is that the vast majority have been systematically trained to believe they do not have the heavenly hope. However, there is no basis for this belief in the Bible and that in short is the reason that no Bible support is ever advanced for this teaching. There is simply no Bible support to be had.

“Can you see yourself in the new world? God wants you to be there!” Here’s the thing. The talk makes the point that we cannot choose where we will end up, whether heaven or earth. I concur. It is up to Jehovah where he puts us. Therefore, why are we presuming to tell all in attendance that they are going to live on earth. Are we not contradicting ourselves?

Following this sales pitch to get us to give up any hope of a heavenly calling, we spend the final 8 minutes of the talk getting instruction on what we need to do to show appreciation.

“You must obey the rules of the household. (1 Ti 3:14,15)” The cited verse says nothing about obeying any rules. What are the rules of the household anyway? I can see that we should obey Jesus, but “the rules of the household”? Who establishes the rules of the household? It would appear it’s the very same ones responsible for this outline, which does little to honor Jesus and much to get us to disobey his direct command.

Whether or not we go to heaven or earth is up to God, but whether we obey the command to properly observe the memorial of Christ death so as to proclaim him until he comes is up to us.