Remembering to Remember

Remembering to Remember

With the beginning of a new year we often pause from the hustle and bustle of busy schedules to reflect on the speedy passage of time. As the years pile on, we increasingly marvel how the past year has flown by with such breakneck speed. We hear in our hearts with increased beckoning the psalmist prayerful words, Lord teach us to number our days that we may apply our heart to wisdom.  Seeking to live more wisely in the new year, we may consider priority adjustments that require attention; life pace that needs slowing, more consistent sabbath rests, curiosities that need fostering, or relationships that call for greater deepening. Yet, there is a reflective question that we may overlook, one a life of wisdom requires. What may we have forgotten that we dare not forget?


The Peril of Forgetfulness 

We often call them “senior moments,” those frustrating gaps in our memory as we age. It may be someone’s name we just can’t recall, a computer password that simply has vanished from our memory, or an important anniversary date. Forgetting is embarrassing, unpleasant, and even annoying, but it can also prove perilous. A missed deadline can lead to an IRS audit, a doctor’s prescription not taken can lead to hospitalization, a burning candle left lit can burn an entire house to the ground.  But perhaps the greatest danger we face is in forgetting God’s manifest presence, his bedrock promises and his great faithfulness to us.

Martyred German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us of the evil one’s temptation strategy to get us to forget God in our daily lives. Bonhoeffer puts it this way in his book Creation and Fall, Temptation, Two Biblical Studies: “At this moment God is quite unreal to us, he loses all reality, and only desire for the creature is real; the only reality is the devil. Satan does not here fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God.”

Forgetfulness is not something we take as seriously as we ought, yet it may well be the most perilous obstacle to our spiritual formation in Christlikeness. Just a cursory glance of the Bible reminds us over and over again of the peril of forgetting as well as the crucial importance of remembering. In this new year, as we seek to live an increasingly wise life, perhaps few things are more important than remembering to remember. What do we need to remember to remember? What must we dare not forget?

 In a very dark moment in redemptive history, the writer of Lamentations encourages God’s covenant people to remember to remember. “This I call to mind and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23  In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases this text beautifully. “But there is one thing I remember and remembering I keep a grip on hope. God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I got left.”


Remembering God’s Unfailing Love  

As we enter a new year, let’s remember to remember God’s unfailing love to us. Others will let us down, disappoint us and fail us, but God will not. His promises are golden. His presence is never in doubt. He is always there for you. He will never leave the room on you. As his son or daughter, he simply, purely, and utterly delights in you. The prophet Zephaniah describes God’s loving presence with sheer delight for his covenant people. “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save, he will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV) What this coming year will bring we do not know, but we can truly know God’s unfailing love will be there for us both as individual apprentices of Jesus as well as a faith community. Nothing, or no one, can ever separate us from God’s unfailing love.


Remembering God’s Past Faithfulness

In this new year, let’s also remember to remember God’s past faithfulness. Few things build more hopeful buoyancy in our hearts and minds than remembering God’s past faithfulness. It is seen in his loving protection of our lives, abundant provision for our needs, his guiding and comforting presence even in the midst of suffering, and the many good things he showers on us simply for our delight and joy. How has God shown his faithfulness to you this past year? When God’s covenant people crossed the Jordan river into the promised land, God instructed them to carry with them twelve memorial stones of remembrance so they would not forget God’s past faithfulness in the forty years of rugged wilderness living. What might be a tangible way you can better remember to remember God’s past faithfulness in your life this year? Where are your stones of remembrance? How will they help you not forget what you dare not forget?


Remembering Christ Together

Remembering to remember is not only an individual endeavor, it is woven into the hopeful and joyful fabric of local church community. When we  make weekly corporate worship a high priority, together in the power of the Holy Spirit we are remembering to remember God’s good news to us, Christ’s work for us, his unfailing love for us, his faithfulness to us and his manifest presence with us. When our Lord Jesus instituted Holy Communion for his local gathered church, he placed it in a frame of remembrance.  Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” This year will you join me and our Christ Community family on Sundays with greater regularity and more joyful expectation of remembering to remember our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? He is the one who has forgiven us, given us new creation life, and welcomed us into his already, but not fully yet kingdom. If we are going to live a life of increasing wisdom in this new year, let’s remember to remember what we dare not forget.

Our Most Important Mentor

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The start of a New Year brings to mind the inevitable marking of time and its indelible mark on each of us. How fast and fleeting time is as it seemingly evaporates into thin air before our bewildered hearts and startled eyes. Enveloped in this limiting and often noisy reality we call time, do we hear the Psalmist’s words exhorting us to number our days that we may live attentive lives? Will we heed Paul’s words calling us to make the most of our time that we may honor Christ in all dimensions of human existence? While an array of seamless stewardships compete for the measured time we have been given, none are more important than the stewardship of our apprenticeship with Jesus. Jesus extends to you and me his grand and grace-filled invitation to come to Him, to be yoked with him and to learn from him how he would live our lives if he were you or me. While we greatly benefit in learning from others, the most important mentor in our lives, at home, at school, and at work, is brilliant Jesus.

As a multisite church family our focus this year will be to press more fully into Jesus’ great invitation. In our extended message series through the Gospel of Matthew, as well as in many of our community groups, we will be considering together what it means to be yoked to King Jesus. We will be exploring how apprenticeship with King Jesus beckons us to increased intimacy, as well as how it informs and empowers our lives, in all of life. No matter where we find ourselves in our journey of faith, Jesus’ great invitation is the transformational pathway for us to truly experience the life we long to live. My heart skips a beat of eager expectation when I think about the year ahead. I hope yours does too.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Some Reading for the New Year

It’s been a few months now since we did something that most pastors — and frankly — even I thought was a bit crazy: We had a sermon series on…drum roll please…economics. I know, right? And yet, amidst it all I’ve never been more stretched and simultaneously more amazed in the many situations where our faith and work naturally intertwined. The series was called Neighborly Love, because as we saw from the parable of the Samaritan, the best economic structures — where even the vulnerable flourish — are driven, designed and directed by God’s commanded love for our fellow human beings.

Let Justice Roll Down - Book

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m still trying to swim through all that we learned in those six short weeks. One book I wanted to share with you that has helped me keep swimming in the right direction is Let Justice Roll Down. If you’ve never read it, get it and read it.

John Perkins has changed the landscape of community development in the Christian Community Development Association, become a well known author and speaker, and has received honorary doctorates from prestigious institutions like Wheaton College, Geneva College, and more.

And here, in his biography, you discover he didn’t start with prestige or privilege. Instead, being born into poverty in Mississippi, Perkins dropped out of school after third grade, and without a mother or a father, Perkins fled to California by age 17 after seeing his older brother killed by a town marshal.

Having his fill of sharecropping, he swore he would never return, but something happened. Perkins realized his own spiritual bankruptcy and accepted the free gift of the gospel in Christ, which changed everything — and not just how he saw his individual life before God, mind you. It changed how he saw oppressive systems, and how the oppressor and the oppressed needed rescuing within that system. In other words, the gospel changed his economics, and in return for his outspoken leadership, he was harassed, unlawfully imprisoned and even beaten nearly to death by prison guards.

Being someone who had formative years of my own life in Mississippi, I have to admit that I didn’t see what Perkins saw while I lived in Mississippi. Not that I didn’t literally see it, but I didn’t understand what I saw. In the words of the wise 20th century rabbi, Abraham Heschel, “The principle to be kept in mind is to know what we see rather than see what we know,” and I needed his story to help me know what I saw. To begin to feel what he felt. To enter the economic brokenness on the page as I remember the economic brokenness of the past and how it lingers on today.

Then upon seeing, Perkins points forward to how the gospel gives us a more robust vision that fills every corner of our lives. “If Christ is Savior, He must also be Lord — Lord over such areas as spending, racial attitudes and business dealings. The gospel must be allowed to penetrate the white consciousness as well as the black consciousness.”

And we need stories of those who have allowed the gospel to do just that. To show us the way in the midst of racial injustice, economic inequality, and media informed values. We need Perkins’ story — his leadership — more than ever. May we read, repent and respond. Then repeat.