Yesterday, after supper, I drove up the mountain to Montana Cemetery. In one corner of that little acre there is a monument marking the place of my late wife’s burial. Next to marble slab another marks the graves of my mother, father, and little brother. The warmth of the sun’s slanting rays felt like a divine hug. The summer breeze blowing gently felt like Heaven’s caress. My heart was tender with memories. Using that amazing gift of recall based on the astonishing amount of information in my brain cells, I could ‘see’ their faces, ‘hear’ their voices again, if only for a moment. In that place of powerful memories, I do not only recall happy moments. Mixed with the sweet comfort of those good moments are the stabs of regret that come with recall of failures and missed opportunities.
While I cannot live in the past, remembering is important! Burke reminded us that ‘Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.’ Maya Angelou sagely observes that ‘History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, it need not be lived again.’
An aside here – I believe that the current movement in America to forget or to erase the past is a mistake. It is important to remember our history well and with accuracy, learning from the mistakes, rectifying the injustices as much as we able to do so and to celebrating the successes. Who we are as a nation comes from the whole of our past – the good, the bad, the ugly. Without celebrating or excusing injustice, we can learn from it, seeking to make a new day.
Christian, we are often urged to live in the moment, but Jesus directed those who follow Him to remember; often. The night before He went to the Cross, He celebrated the Passover Seder that the Jews have observed for thousands of years. It is a night to recall their suffering and God’s salvation. Jewish lives were spared by the offering of a lamb, the blood splashed on their doorposts an act of faith and obedience that caused the death angel to ‘pass over’ their homes. Jesus took those memories and made them a means of knowing His grace, a holy mystery. “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:19-20, NIV) “Never forget,” He says, “what I did on your behalf, the sacrifice at the Cross that reconciles you to God.”
Communion serves not only to remind us of our salvation. It is also a time to renew our appreciation for the Body of Christ into which we are called. When Christians take the Cup and the Bread together, it speaks to the fact that we are all, regardless of race, gender, or social status, on level ground at the foot of the Cross. We are sinners saved by grace, children of God, the Elect “who once were far away … brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13, NIV)
Disciple, remember all of it. “In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from God’s people, Israel, and you did not know the promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you belong to Christ Jesus. Though you once were far away from God, now you have been brought near to him because of the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12-13, NLT) I loved the poetry of Isaiah’s call to remember. “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” (Isaiah 51:1, KJV) Isn’t that rich? Yes, because of God’s grace, who I was, I am no longer.
Here’s a word from the Word. May the Spirit use it to remind you of God’s goodness.
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes,
I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.
Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?” (Psalm 77:11-13, NIV)
“A good character is the best tombstone.
Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered.
Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”
– Charles Spurgeon