We need reminders—people, books, stories, gatherings, songs, images, paintings, words scrawled on scraps of paper—reminders of what matters. Without reminders, we drift.
In Deuteronomy 6:12, Moses reminds the people of Israel to revist the divine commands and rehearse the stories of God’s deliverance, saying, “Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Remembering is a way of tending to the relationship between God and the people of God.
Psalm 77:11 says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.”
When Jesus gave his followers instructions concerning the observance of the Lord’s Supper, Luke 22:19 records his giving thanks, breaking bread, and saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In John 14:26, Jesus promises his disciples that the Holy Spirit will not only teach them, but aid their memory: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:2, writes, “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.” Paul stressed the importance of keeping what had been passed on through the act of remembering.
Last week I attended a conference centered on Christian spiritual formation, revisiting ideas I have been thinking about since my days as a seminarian. It struck me that this conference prompted my memory. I was reminded of events from the past, books I had read, talks I had heard, and truths that had moved into the recesses of my mind. My presence at this gathering brought to my recollection matters of importance. I was invited to consider what matters afresh.
What reminds you of what matters? Artwork? Books on display? A daily reading habit? A weekly gathering for study or worship? Stories you retell, rehearse, and relive? A meeting with friends or family? A routine pilgrimage to a place of importance?
We foster and cultivate memory. Human beings tend to forget, to drift. Tending historical tethers maintain our connections to what matters most.