"Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets." (From Zechariah 8)
Memory. Remembrance. One a capacity, the other a practice. We remember because we have the capacity to do so. As I read the prophetic words of Zechariah, I am reminded of how central this practice is for the people of God. Especially in times of tumult and uncertainty. How important it is to remember God’s promises. Otherwise, we are left with despair and resignation—neither of which serves the end to which we have been called as the children of God.
But remembering is sometimes difficult to do, especially when one is assailed daily by a multitude of demands—many of them both necessary and urgent. It is hard enough to decide which task to do, much less make special time for remembering anything besides the tasks at hand. Nevertheless, we are called by God to do just that. Like the communities to which Zechariah is speaking, we are invited to remember that God has promised restoration and abundance. We are exhorted to look back on the accomplishments of yesteryear. Not to disproportionately valorize them, but rather to be inspired to do likewise in our own time and place. You see, remembering contains an imperative.
Re-membering re-minds us that we are more and can do more than we believe we can. Not because of our innate ability but rather because of the God we serve, whose greatest commandment to us is to love, wastefully and conditionally. It’s the only time you’ll ever hear me say be wasteful! But it’s true. We have to love without regard, without caution, not because it always makes sense, but because that is what Christ commands. And if you need help doing this, I suggest taking time to remember, which shows us places and times in our lives where we have been loved into abundance from places of brokenness and despair.
And that’s kind of what the gathering that we call the Church is—a place to remember God’s promise AND the imperative contains. This is the only way we can be truly re-membered, or re-assembled in a form that will enable God’s light to shine into the darkness of a world occupied by principalities and powers that will never support the movement of compassion and justice embodied by those of us who identity as followers of Christ.
As you finish reading this short reflection, I invite you to take time and remember just one time in your life where you were loved, not because of anything you did or how you appeared. A time when you were loved simply because you were seen as a unique child of God, worthy of love and respect. Now, remember a time when you were rejected, for any number of reasons; the way you look, the way you talk, what you believe, etc. Do you remember how that felt? Contrast that with the experience of unconditional love. Now ask: How should we be as the Church?