"Keep in mind the days of the past, give thought to the years of generations gone by: go to your father and he will make it clear to you, to the old men and they will give you the story."
Deuteronomy 32:7 (The Bible in Basic English)
How's your memory? It seems that as we get older, our memory tends to age a bit as well. We can remember years gone by, but can't remember what we had for breakfast. My theory is that as adults, we get busier and busier until we simply have too much to remember. Fortunately, the age of electronics has been able to compensate for some of our shortcomings, and electronic calendars, alarm clocks and reminders have become second nature to many of us.
The older we get, the more we make to-do lists and shopping lists because we tend to forget things. Have you ever gone to the grocery store to get one or two specific items, but when you get there, you remember 10 or 15 other items that you need? You check out, pay and go home, only to find out when you get home that you forgot the one or two items you originally went to buy? Well, I'm sure I'm not the only one. We all have trouble remembering sometimes.
Memory problems have been a concern as long as there have been people. In the Old Testament, we find many instances where the people of Israel are instructed to remember their past. As parents and grandparents, we are to remind our children of their heritage - of the story of our families and how we arrived at the place where we are right now. The Hebrew people were told to remember their past historical events and their spiritual past. God had made a covenant with their forefather Abraham, and God had brought them through years of hardships. In fact, Passover and other Jewish celebrations are based on remembering. But remembering the past is not the same as living in the past. They were to remember the past so that in times of hardship and struggles, they would trust God in the present time to bring them through those hardships.
In the Christian church, we also remember our heritage. When we celebrate Holy Communion, we remember Christ's suffering, death and resurrection for our salvation. When we remember all that God has done for us and for others in the past, we can have strength for the days ahead. God has kept us this far, and God will continue to journey with us in this life, through hardships and through suffering. Just as God journeyed with the Israelites in the desert and through the years of prosperity as well as the years of exile and conflict, God continues to journey with us, giving us hope and strength for all that lies ahead.
This Sunday, we will celebrate Homecoming at Covington First UMC. We will gather around to hear old stories, to sing the hymns of our heritage, and to remember as a faith community. We remember our heritage and God's faithfulness as we gather strength and encouragement for the journey ahead. Come and share with us as we remember God's goodness.
Jan McCoy is associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.