National Police Week: This, do in remembrance of me

“This, do in remembrance of me,” the Pastor said solemnly reading the words of Jesus from the New Testament as he lifted up a morsel of bread. Silence as the wine is passed. The words intoned again and we all drank. In remembrance.

I had always pondered why Christ led His confused little congregation in the hidden upper room in a memorial service before He was even dead. He was poised for victory, already having ridden into the city with accolades in a spontaneous parade. Respected one day, humiliated the next; facing His destiny with courage and purpose after praying intensely and sweating drops of blood to know that there was no other way. His followers would understand that last supper only later, but the symbolism and darkness of it all perplexed them in the moment.

“This, do in remembrance of me.” Perhaps it is that courage in the shadow of death in which police officers daily tread that makes me see Him in the face of Deputy Brent Holloway. Brent was murdered while guarding a crime scene. Murdered by the cowardly arsonist who took Deputy Holloway’s service weapon after shooting him in the back of the head, then turned the gun on himself with his impending arrest. Holloway was my first academy student killed in the line of duty. Not the last. I didn’t know Brent well enough to know if he would be honored, appalled, or puzzled by any comparison with Jesus. I was too far back at the crowded funeral on the mountain top in Teller County, Colorado to know what was said over him. Close enough to hear the sobbing though, and close enough to hear the bagpiper.

“This, do in remembrance of me.” I am not claiming that we are saviors although sometimes we are. I am not claiming we are messiahs although we sometimes bear a message of eternal significance when we knock on a door in the night. I am not claiming that our dead are martyrs even though the names on the wall silently testify of dying for a great cause. The identification with Jesus that I see in the faces of our dead, regardless of one’s own personal beliefs, is a willingness to be obedient “unto death” to our calling and the cry that we be remembered now and beyond. Brent had that before he was murdered. I wish I had known him better. I wonder who will share that regret next.

“This, do in remembrance of me.” That biblical request came ahead of death. The call was not for us to do what we do very well — memorialize our fallen — but to do now those things that honor our brothers and sisters. We must not be like the puzzled Apostles, wondering why they were honoring a living person as though He were already dead. The call is to act today, be purposeful today, to honor one another in the living hours. The time will come for all of us to call together our loved ones at the grave. Look around at the heroes who surround you every day. Alive now. Let us make this one week a call to live every week in honor of those who serve — the living and the dead.

I take liberty to add one word to the ancient phrase as you daily walk beside the heroes you know.

“This, do in remembrance of me... today.”

About the author

Joel Shults operates Street Smart Training and is the founder of the National Center for Police Advocacy.. He is retired as Chief of Police in Colorado. Over his 30 year career in uniformed law enforcement and in criminal justice education Joel has served in a variety of roles: academy instructor, police chaplain, deputy coroner, investigator, community relations officer, college professor, and police chief, among others. Shults earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri, with a graduate degree in Public Services Administration and bachelors in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Central Missouri. In addition to service with the US Army military police and CID, Shults has done observational studies with over fifty police agencies across the country. He has served on a number of advisory and advocacy boards including the Colorado POST curriculum committee as a subject matter expert.

Follow Joel on Twitter @ChiefShults.

Contact Joel Shults

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