Remembering and Doing

Quail in the desert

Throughout scripture God’s people are told to remember. This seems like a simple command, until we realize that how we remember is just as important as what we remember.

In the Old Testament, when Israel forgot (which happened regularly) the results were rarely pleasant. Remember how, in Numbers 11, the Israelites pined away for “the good old days” of slavery after they got tired of eating manna and quail in the desert day after day? Were they really equating eating bland food with being submitted to forced labour? Probably not. Rather, because of their stubbornness in the present they profoundly mis-remembered their past.

“It wasn’t that bad in Egypt,” they probably muttered to themselves.

Fast forward to the early church all the way up to the present day. As followers of Jesus, we are called to remember Jesus’ death and resurrection by participating in the communion meal, or the Eucharist. This celebration is central to our lives as disciples of Jesus. All of this suggests that remembrance is vital to our Christian lives. I am guilty of mis-remembering all sorts of things. It’s often what turns frustration into bitterness or anger into resentment. Generally it’s what turns little problems into big problems. Like the Israelites in Numbers 11 I need to repent of my ingratitude. I also desperately need to recover my memory.

Are there certain things we should make an extra effort to remember? Are there right and wrong ways of remembering? When we remember, are we simply looking back at something or are we participating in it in some way? These are some of the themes and questions I am pursuing in my integrative project. I hope you’ll join me on the journey!

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