One of humanity’s greatest problems is forgetfulness. There are many different ways and reasons why we forget things, it’s something that can occur suddenly or it can occur gradually as old memories are lost.
When God deals with the people of Israel throughout the Old Testament, he doesn’t introduce himself simply as: ‘your God’, rather, we often read: ‘This is the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt.’ It is a reminder, to a forgetful people (which we all are), what it is that God has done for us.
The Church gives us a variety of practices to help us remember. Sunday worship, the sacraments of baptism and Communion. Each exists to remind us of some significant aspect of our faith and the God who created, redeemed, and sustains us every day. As we enter this very special time of year, November, the month of remembrance and thanksgiving, when we celebrate Remembrance Day and mark the the end of yet another liturgical year – the question for us to answer is: will we remember and how will we remember?
In her excellent little book ‘Mythical me’ Richella Parham describes the importance of looking on the past with grace:
‘Developing a redemptive memory requires recalling not only the pain of the past but also the joy, seeing both the problems and the solutions, seeking to spot the ways that God has provided even in the midst of difficult situations.
A redemptive memory enables me to face the facts of the past as well as my own feelings. I work at comprehending the truth that God always has loved me and always will love me. A friend of mine says that we should always look for “evidence of grace,” and I have found it enormously helpful to remember my past with a specific goal of recognising God’s help. Now that I have had some practice in looking back in this way, I have become better and better at spotting patterns of provision.’
This November, as we honour the memory of the fallen, remember the loved ones and friends we have lost during the pandemic, and all the ups and downs of this church year, let’s pray for the gift of redemptive memory, the ability to look at our past with grace and gratitude.