What Do You Need to Remember?
Can you remember where you were and what was going on in your life at this time last year? Thanksgiving 2018, do you remember?
Can you remember who you were with, what you did, where you ate? Do you remember your state of mind, what was going on in your life and how you were handling it? Maybe Thanksgiving last year was not very memorable. It came and went. Maybe last year at this time is a memory you would just as soon forget – not dwell on – move past.
Remembering is a very conscientious act. We bring something from the past into the present. We bring who we were – into relationship with who we are. We bring something we did, or experienced forward so we can see it in a new light.
Maybe the light of gratitude. Maybe the light of acceptance.
Maybe time has taught us to be more compassionate – so we can view the past with empathy.
Maybe time has brought us wisdom – so we can see our mistakes without harsh judgments
Maybe remembering – helps us appreciate that without whatever happened in our past – without it – we wouldn’t be who we are right now.
One of the things that happens to me, one of the gifts that I am very aware of and very grateful for that connects with remembering – is that I regularly run into people I know in unexpected places.
When I was in the Louvre I ran into the sister of one of my closest friends.
When I was changing gates at an airport in Chicago, I ran into a friend from college who was also changing gates at this airport in Chicago.
When I was on a rental car shuttle in San Diego, I ran into a parishioner from Good Shepherd!
I treasure these moments because they are gifts of connection, of being part of a big family, God’s family. And of course, running into people sparks memories. Makes me wonder if there is something about running into this person or that time in my life that I’m supposed to pay attention to. That I am supposed to remember.
Last weekend I was in New York and guess what? In the midst of the very crowded Metropolitan Museum of Art, I ran into a friend and colleague. We were parishioners together in New York City and now we’re both priests and rectors.
He and his wife are two of the most faithful and compassionate, caring people I know. Part of that is because they are southern and know hospitality. They are authentic in that they live their faith and their values in how they spend their time, talent and treasure.
And the most important title they have in my eyes is they are my daughter’s godparents.
While the whole congregation is asked to support the baptized in their life in Christ – the godparents’ job is to help the child remember. To remember the outward and visible sign of that inward and spiritual grace. The indissoluble relationship that child has forever and always with the God of Love.
I remember asking them to be godparents, having lunch at their apartment on a Sunday after church. They were surprised and deeply moved. We hadn’t known each other long – just a couple of years through our church – but we’d spent significant time together and had some deep and meaningful conversations.
We were different in many ways - -without church I’m sure we never would have met, its one of the best parts of church life, I think, you connect with people that you never would through professional or social circumstances. We loved talking about God and faith – and community. The gift of being part of a faith community that cared and worked at building people up in love.
I remember feeling their joy to have been asked – and my joy that they said yes! Joy that has become gratitude every year, because every year – for 15 years now – right around April 2nd they reach out to my daughter to remind her, and me – of the sacramental goodness that she shares with all of us. They remind her that she is a beloved child of God – sealed by the Holy Spirit – and marked as Christ’s own, forever.
Jesus, remember me – is what the thief asks in this morning's gospel. He doesn’t want to be remembered for what he has done or left undone.
The man who hangs with Jesus wants to be seen and brought forward when Jesus comes into his own. When Jesus comes into his power and glory – not the kind of power we associate with kingdoms – but the power of a boundless and all encompassing love. He wants Jesus to bring him – to that.
And Jesus says – you bet I will. Truly I tell you, today, today you will be with me in Paradise. He doesn’t say kingdom – because Paradise is the Garden. Paradise is that place of restored relationship and communion with God – the garden of God’s creation – where everything is good. And yes, Jesus promises to bring forth that man, that criminal, to be remembered. To be seen. Because he too is eternally a part of that goodness.
The interesting thing is, every single Sunday, Jesus asks us the same question. Jesus asks us to remember him!
Whenever you eat this bread – or drink this cup – do this in remembrance of me. What do we remember of Jesus when we open our hands to receive? What aspects of Jesus life do we reconstitute – do we bring forward into our hearts and minds.
Do we bring forward forgiveness – maybe to break us out of cycle of blame – even if forgiveness is simply letting go – Father forgive them for they know not what they do?
Do we bring forward – do we remember – that on the night before Jesus died he told his followers – I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete? Maybe to break the cycle of our judgmental or critical thoughts – because at the heart of our faith is joy, not judgement?
Do we remember – do we bring forward the truth that God – shared our human nature, lived and died as one of us – which means everything we are is in the process of becoming holy – as Jesus was holy? In Christ, through Christ, with Christ – there is a pattern of living available to all of us right now – to enable us to move towards wholeness – which is holiness.
As we give thanks for the reign of Christ – on the Sunday before a new beginning – another Advent time of waiting for the birth of Jesus – what do you need to remember? Who do you need to remember, bring forward into your present?
In this Thanksgiving week that is grounded in gratitude, what, who, do you need to remember to remind you of the way of love. The reign of Christ in front of us right now. What about God do you need to remember? Amen.