Coral Way Jehovah’s Witnesses remember Christ’s sacrifice

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Coral Way Jehovah’s Witnesses remember Christ’s sacrifice

Dennis and Michelle Persson, visiting from Denmark, put their vacation on hold to fulfill a religious obligation Saturday.The Perssons left their cruise ship to attend the Memorial of Jesus Christ’s death, also known as the Lord’s Evening Meal, at the Coral Way Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was an event happening at kingdom halls worldwide.

”Everywhere we go, our brothers and sisters [what Jehovah’s Witnesses call each other] welcome us with open arms,” said Dennis Persson. “We know it’s the same observance worldwide.”

Saturday was the most important day on the calendar for members of the faith. It’s so important that every year Witnesses launch a campaign to invite as many people as possible to their annual observance, said Coral Way’s presiding overseer Carlos Macias.

This year, the Coral Way congregation, which meets at 3161 SW 21st Ter., distributed 5,000 invitations between March 1 and Saturday before the memorial started at 7 p.m.

By 6 p.m. Saturday, Witnesses and visitors started to fill the hall. The Perssons were among the 200 or so who joined the Coral Way congregation. All told, about 312 people attended, some standing in the lobby, many sitting in overflow rooms watching the service on closed-circuit TVs and some listening over the telephone.

Macias explained the biblical reasons why Jehovah’s Witnesses observe this meal and the effect it has on their lives.

During his final meal, Jesus ”set up a new institution after he celebrated the Passover with his followers and dismissed the traitor Judas,” Macias said. He said that Christ gave specific instruction to keep doing this in ”remembrance of me,” which is a part of a scripture found in the Bible, in the book of Luke, Chapter 22, Verse 19.

According to the Bible, the final meal Christ had with his 11 apostles consisted of wine and unleavened bread. At the Kingdom Hall, six plates of bread and six glasses of wine sit on a table covered with a white cloth.

The bread represented Christ’s perfect body, said Macias, and the wine, Christ’s blood that was spilled on behalf of mankind.

The emblems, as they were called, were passed to everyone in attendance but no one present ate or drank.

Macias showed the attendees the Bible reference that is the basis of the church’s belief that the new meal set up a covenant, which allows a select number of people to go to heaven to rule with Jesus. Those are the only ones who should partake of the emblems.

”Actually, nowadays, the number of witnesses who look forward to life here on earth far out-number those who profess a heavenly calling,” Macias said. “The number of people the Bible says will live on earth is not a finite number, like the 144,000 that the Bible says will go to heaven.”

Macias invited attendees to hear a special Bible talk, entitled ”Who is Qualified to rule Mankind?” 10 a.m. April 6. It will be broadcast at the Coral Way Kingdom Hall and other congregations worldwide.

Each year, more Witnesses and others observe the covenant: last year, the attendance of memorials of Christ’s death was more than 17 million. In 2007, there were nearly seven million active Witnesses.

”It reminds me of the love Jesus has for me personally,” said 27-year-old Marcus Drexler, a Jehovah’s Witness.

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