In Psalm 22 we read these words of hope:
“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord.”
The loss of our personal memories can be a devastating experience and can have wide ranging consequences for many of our relationships. No less so our collective amnesia as human beings can have terrible consequences.
Last Monday on Q&A the panel discussion focussed in on domestic and family violence in Australia. During the discussion it was said that 1 in 3 Australian women will experience violence against them simply because they are women. And, even more disturbingly, 1 in 5 will suffer some form of sexual abuse or violence. As a man I found these statistics staggering and wonder at the culture we have created which so demeans women – What will this mean for my daughter and her friends? What does it mean for people in my congregation? What does it mean for the young women I meet as a Chaplain at the University?
Whatever else it means I believe it is a symptom and sign of our collective amnesia as human beings?
We have forgotten God and we have placed ourselves as human beings at the centre.
We have forgotten that each of us is a precious creation loved by our maker.
We have forgotten that God’s promises are for all people.
We have forgotten that God’s desire is that all people encounter and experience an abundant life.
We have forgotten that in Christ there is no male or female, rich or poor, slave or free.
The symptoms are not simply in the treatment of women but seen in our predilection for violence based on any difference race, class, religion or gender. Our inhumanity towards one another is rife.
Far too often people of religious persuasion interpret their relationship with God as an invitation to violence and there can be no doubt there are images of God that portray a picture of an angry and violent God, but remembering God’s promise of love and mercy in Christ transform these difficult images. Jesus commitment was to life in all it wholeness for people, even those who had been pushed to very margins of society.
Remembering God is important and remembering God’s concern for the poor the orphan and the widow is vital. God’s vision expressed in Psalm 22 is that the poor shall eat and be satisfied.
When people gather for worship one of core aims is the act of remembering – the technical term used is anamnesis.
The word has the opposite meaning to one which sounds more familiar, amnesia. Anamnesis is about recovering our memory – our memory of God.
In coming together we are reminded of our common bond to God and to all created life. We are reminded that despite what we may think God has not forgotten us. We remember that God’s response to the violence of the world was not retribution but submission to the cross in Christ.
The violence of the cross is not the act of an angry God, rather it is the invitation to new life as God accepts the violence we commit against Jesus and transforms it through the resurrection.
Psalm 22 which is quoted by Jesus on the cross reminds us that God did not abandon Jesus but quite the opposite: “he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.”
As we remember God and turn again towards God’s love in worship we are transformed by our remembering – God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s desire for abundant living infiltrate our hearts, our minds and our souls as we invited to follow Jesus.
The psalmist cries ‘As for me I will live for the Lord” – remembering changes us into God’s people, called to bring wholeness to the lives of others.
God remembers us in grace what does it mean foe us to remember God?