This post will be about a little of this-n-that.
Back East in the 70s, a capable man (who nonetheless struggled inwardly) once started a Bible class for college students. He hung a green street sign above the door to the classroom, and the sign said “This Place.” I have no idea what went on inside that room, but the younger me envied the situation. It seemed as if there was something important going on in “this place.”
A new church that wanted a catchy name called itself “That Church.” They even use those words “that church” in their web presence. People may well remember them because of their use of the demonstrative pronoun.
An impressive man named Wes once graced the church I was part of. He was asked — more often than most — to “head the table.” (By that I mean “speak the devotional words that kicked off the communion ritual.”) Wes began every communion table talk with the words “This is the Lord’s Supper.” Although his enunciation didn’t particularly emphasize the demonstrative pronoun this, his overall emphasis was demonstrative. It didn’t hurt that he quoted a long passage of scripture, in the anachronistic, less familiar, yet striking, King James, each time.
When Jesus was at the so-called “last supper” with his closest friends, He said, “Do this to remember Me.” (Luke 22:19) That was a very demonstrative pronoun that referred to an even more demonstrative event.
In Greek grammar¹ studies, I’ve learned labels for some demonstrative pronouns: “this” and “these” are called the near demonstratives, while “that” and “those” are sometimes referred to as remote. So, for instance, the classroom called “This Place” was in a sense near to those within. From my vantage point, however, it was remote. Functionally, for me, “this place” was that place.
And when Wes intoned “This is the Lord’s Supper,” he was, whether he knew it grammatically or not, conceptually drawing the experience near to the congregation. In the same vein, I think Jesus was drawing things near when He said, “Do this” and “this is my body.”
I wish He and it didn’t seem so remote.
¹ Yes, it is Greek grammar that has most notably informed my understanding of such aspects as tenses and conjugations, moods, and cases. I am one of those weirdos who likes grammar and usage. I credit my parents for speaking well around me, so that I grew up pretty much knowing how to speak and write English. I also credit one Sharon Spingler, my 8th grade English teacher, for teaching some real grammar.