Having a good memory is not something I am blessed with. I have a really hard time remembering specific details. I can’t remember important things that my doctor tells me from the day before or how much my dosage of Enbrel is that I take for my skin disease psoriasis. It’s pretty frustrating. My wife gets frustrated at me too and she on the other hand is much better at remembering more specific details. A few days ago, Rachelle reminded me that on that day exactly one year ago, we found out that we were having a boy! That blew my mind. How do you remember those things!? I guess I need to just try harder. But some things just seem minor to me.
The other day, my older sister put a throwback picture collage on Facebook from when we were all in elementary school. There was a girl that commented on the picture that said she remembered babysitting us and was genuinely excited. I couldn’t share in her excitement because I had absolutely NO idea who she was! That was memory was gone! Sorry Janette.
But there’s one thing I can remember very vividly from when I was a kid — Christian holidays and their accompanying Church services. At Christmas time I remember attending the lengthy Lutheran services and thinking they were quite boring at the time. But there was always something that drew me in. It was not all the standing up and sitting down however! I remember staring at the beautiful stained glass in the old sanctuary building my mom grew up in and eventually married my dad in. I remember going down in the basement for the refreshments. I remember my grandma singing in the choir. I remember not being able to participate in the Lord’s Supper because it was closed communion. I remember not understanding why. I still don’t understand why some churches have closed communion.
I also vividly remember my own local church’s Easter cantatas. This is mostly because my mom was the choir director and planned and led these services and we had to listen to the songs over and over again! But I loved it. I remember transforming the basement of the 1st Baptist Church in Mound City into our version of Jerusalem with live sheep and goats brought in to add to the experience. I vividly picture in my mind the final scene in the cantata when the man playing Jesus would appear in his beautiful white robes with the light shining on him (Although I honestly can’t remember his name!)
The story of God from Christmas to Easter and everything in between has sunk deep within my brain. It has always been the most important part of who I am. I have been able to remember these experiences much more than many other things in my life. Why is this? I believe it is because God has truly instilled this in me. God has given me the gift of the church and ministry and is today why I am a pastor. It is also because I have experienced this story over and over again through the years.
Being able to remember God’s story and then to immerse yourself into that story is what all of us are called to do. But if church isn’t a priority. If the story becomes something you hear only once in a while, it begins to fade into the dark spaces of our memories. The stories of Peter and the disciples, the story of Lazarus and his sisters, the story of Abraham and his family tree become a vague memory if not forgotten if we don’t consistently hear them and participate in that same story! They become like Janette has to me. The weekly gathering of God’s people is so important to remembering who we are and who God is. In the Lord’s Supper Jesus commands us to participate in it to remember who he is and what he did. It also re-members us into that story, that body of Christ. Not only the weekly gathering, but also the weekly re-enacting of God’s story in the things we do and the stories we tell is so important. This is why I think following the church calendar and the church seasons is so vital to remember the whole of God’s story. So on this Maundy Thursday before Easter, we remember the central aspect of our faith: The mystery of Christ’s death, resurrection and hopeful return.
Let us remember well!