From the Associate Rector - April Manifest 2021
I write this on the day that would have been my father’s 75th birthday. Later this month, on the 27th of April, it will be the 30th anniversary of his death from pancreatic cancer. I was 8 when he died, and I have some wonderful but limited memories. My brother, just shy of 2 at the time, has no real memories of our father. He tried to claim some memories, but truly, those memories are actually stories family members have shared with him, they aren’t experiences he lived. Later today, despite it being in the middle of Holy Week, I am hoping to schlep across town to finally drop off some old home movies to be digitized, with the hopes that I can watch and relive some of those memories again. I hope it will sharpen some of my memories which have faded over the years.
I have been caring for my mom in our home since last August, following a hospitalization for Sepsis. My mom has memory issues, which have eluded a clear diagnosis as of yet. Most days I must serve as her memory. Some days are easier than others! My memory is quite good – I have a strong sensory memory, and a knack for remembering random things. Sometimes I worry, what will happen if I eventually lose my memory? Will someone help ME remember if that happens? What will it be like if the joys and the pains, the people I’ve loved over the years, and the communities I’ve been a part of it no longer live with me in my memory? Will I remember my faith and vocation? Will I remember Jesus?
So much of our faith is remembering, as well as re-membering. To re-member is to put back together, even that which was once broken. In that sense, while we cannot put flesh back upon the bones of those who have died as the Lord did as witnessed by Ezekiel, we can re-member them in our own ways so that they live on in legacy, love, and memory. Jesus was re-membered through his Resurrection, and we continue to remember his ministry, his love, his death, and his being raised, even though we weren’t witnesses ourselves. Sometimes I think of it like having those created memories my brother has come to claim of my dad, even though he was just a baby when he died. Jesus, by his life and Resurrection, teaches us how to remember, and remember well.
Whenever I celebrate the Eucharist, I repeat Jesus’ words, “Do this for the remembrance of me.” You’ll note that Jesus’ words are not past tense, but in the here and now: “Take, eat – this IS my Body, which is given for you.” Jesus gives us his body here and now, and invites us into the Christian journey by sharing a meal, nourishing our bodies, and by remembering Jesus as we do so. Remembering can be sustenance.
I think of the thief who died on the cross next to Jesus, who cried out, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Remembering can bring grace.
Early on the first day of the week, the women came to the tomb and did not find the body of Jesus. They were terrified, but the two men in dazzling white clothes instructed them to “remember” what Jesus told him, that he would be put to death, but then be raised. Then they remembered his words. Remembering can bring hope.
Remembering can also bring suffering – all of us have painful memories, some we’d rather discard and forget. With psychological and spiritual help, it is possible to learn how to disarm memories so they no longer pack an emotional punch. Sometimes, just the passage of time helps with the same.
How do you remember? How do you remember your life, and your loved ones? How do you remember events and milestones from the recent and distant past? How do you remember Jesus?
How do we remember as a faith community? How do we remember our history, even though none of us were around at the very beginning? How will we remember 1393 York Avenue when we have moved to 351?
Our faithful remembering is not to just be a casual or passive recalling – our remembering is to be our active participation here and now in the defining events of our parish life, and the defining events of the story of our faith, both from the past AND also in the future.
As we celebrate Easter Sunday, and the season of Eastertide following, may we remember well. As we return to in-person worship, and as we begin to say goodbye to our current church, may we remember well. Jesus calls us to live out our ministry in his memory – may we remember and re-member him, too – to make him known and present in all that we do.