Had a conversation today with the checkout operator today. He gets his pension in April. I don’t get mine until the summer, so I’m still young. Ahem.
Nice bloke, quite chatty behind mask, screens and the extra distance. The store wasn’t busy so we had time to spend. He tried to work out how many years he had been paying in to the State- it was a lot, he’d been a good worker all his life. Some of the details were a bit fuzzy though- that may have been the way he told me, or possibly the early morning brain fuzz in my head screeching out for “COOOOFFFFFFEEEEEE!”
Some of my memories aren’t quite as sharp as I’d like. There’s a large volume of water passed under the Bridge of Years. Like the frosted leaves in my photo, the edges are blurred and the colour has faded. The shape of the leaves shows there were several trees around, but I can’t make out all the details.
It’s a common problem. Memory becomes a forgettory. We need to re-hash our memories, re-visit them, tell the old stories again and again. Everyone does it- we meet family, friends, or the person we vaguely remember working with for a few weeks back in the Nineties… or Sixties… – and we all frantically search our memory for the stories that link us up again. (Like the time I substituted salt water for the bitter lemon in my brother’s bottle. Never to be forgotten!)
It’s no surprise that the Bible is full of stories, reminders, history, and names. If only Moses had a camera. God instructed the Israelites to put up “marker stones” at significant places where God had interacted with them. “Tell this to your children and your children’s children…”
When Christians met together they “broke bread” together in memory of the Last Supper of Jesus: sharing bread and wine as everlasting reminders of what the death of Jesus accomplished. Christians still do this now, about 2,000 years later. We call it the Holy Communion, the Eucharist, the Breaking of Bread. History comes alive again- it becomes “now” not just “then.” We need our memories, our stories, our shared histories.
Why not take a little time to rustle through the fading leaves and frozen moments of your past? Think of the people, the places, the actions that make you who you are. Why do you believe what you believe? Why does it still matter? What have you left behind- and need to go back to pick up again?
Most of our church buildings have been closed for nearly a year- we have had to find different ways to worship, pray, teach and be taught. “Zoom” and “Webex” have been engraved in our brains.
We miss our friends and co-workers and co-worshippers. Phones and computer screen are better than nothing, but it’s not the same. Perhaps we have made gains too- fresh ways of praying, time and quiet in which we can think and contemplate mystery. Or we may just be fed up.
One day we’ll tell our grandchildren “We lived through the Great Pandemic in the Twenties…” and they’ll look at us with that expression that says “Dunno what yer on about, Grandma…”
But we will have learned something more about ourselves. And hopefully about God. And maybe encourage others with the “old stories” that are True Story… a bit like John the Apostle wrote
1 John 2:14 (NLT) I have written to you who are God’s children because you know the Father. I have written to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning. I have written to you who are young in the faith because you are strong. God’s word lives in your hearts, and you have won your battle with the evil one... 1 John 3:1-3 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.
Those are memories that should never be allowed to fade.