I originally wrote this acrostic one Remembrance Sunday, but felt that it had a wider application so decided to include it in this collection. The Bible attaches great importance to the idea of ‘remembrance’.
Recall, O Israel, your deliverance
Escaping Pharaoh’s army, brought safe to shore;
Moses’ song of triumph, Miriam’s victory dance.
Each day a fiery pillar going before
Multitudes – those who wandered in Sinai’s expanse –
Becoming a special people under a perfect law.
‘Remember’ cries the psalmist, ‘and cast a glance
At how God saved us in peace and war’.
Nations delivered from direst circumstance,
Captive souls plucked from Sheol’s jaw,
El Shaddai, God of victory, God of the second chance.
Many years ago, as a recent Christian, I remember reading the account of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. I was familiar with the story but this was the first time I had read it as God’s word. What really struck me was the brevity of the narrative. Given the amount of text devoted to other key episodes in the Old Testament I had anticipated a lengthy, repetitive and rhetorical blockbuster. But the core event is covered in 11 verses at the end of Exodus Chapter 14. Suddenly they are singing and dancing on the other side. Is that it, I wondered?
Subsequently I discovered that, whilst the original event received only brief attention, it is attested many times in other teachings and psalms. It is repeated and reinforced. The people of God are told to remember and tell it to their children. Amongst the many examples are Psalm 77, Deuteronomy 6:20-23, Joshua 24:5-7, 1 Corinthians 10:1-2.
It has been said that some people never remember whilst others never forget. Raking up the past, being a victim of history, can be bad. Sometimes it’s good not to remember – God is capable of blotting out our sins and remembering them no more (Isaiah 43:25). Quite something for an omniscient God!
Yet the preacher in Ecclesiastes bemoans that there is no remembrance of former things (Ecclesiastes 1:11) – resulting in a generation that has lost touch with God. There can be great blessing in collective and personal memory provided we remember the right things. Not just the nice things that have happened, but all the times we have known God’s presence, whether beside green pastures or in the darkest valley.
It’s worth reading what the blogger “Life in The Spacious Place” has to say on this topic here.
I would say that if we don’t consciously practise the remembrance of God’s blessings, we tend to lose our faith. Would you agree?
(The Remembrance acrostic appears on my Old Testament: History, Law and Poetry page).