Last Friday night, Carol and I had dinner with some long-time friends. When I was appointed as the pastor of Smithville United Methodist Church in Smithville, Ohio in 1998, we met Brad and Cathy. Over the years we got to know each other and we and our children developed a good friendship. As the twists and turns of life would have it, we now live within not-too-many miles of each other.
As I was reflecting today on our time with them, I was reminded once again of the indispensable 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!