Last night Carol and I had dinner with some long-time friends. When I was appointed as the Associate Pastor of Mentor United Methodist Church in Mentor, Ohio in 1989, we met Russ and Lynn. Over the years we got to know each other. They moved out of state about a year before we moved to Smithville, Ohio in 1998. As the twists and turns of life would have it, we now live within a few miles of each other.
As I was reflecting today on our time with them last night, I was reminded once again of the indispensible nature of memory for identity. As we reminisced about times long gone, the nature of our friendship, our identity as friends once again made sense of our relationship; apart from shared times and spaces and memories, friendship is not possible.
Memory is not only essential for friendship, it is necessary for Christian faith as well. So much of what Christians do in worship on Sunday morning consists of remembering. We read from an ancient book over and over again, we remind ourselves of the stories of the great, yet fallible saints in the Bible, and we reflect upon those stories for our faith, for our discipleship. We move through the church year, repeating Advent and Lent year after year, examining our lives, year after year, that we might in each new year move a little closer to the perfection God desires of us. In our remembering we discover our identity as those who are in Christ, as those who are found by God and named by him.
Memory is essential for discipleship. Memory is a good gift from God!