remembering and forgetting

In the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, we restate the words of Jesus, “Do this in remembrance of me.” We United Methodists say, “Remember your Baptism and be thankful,” whether or not someone was old enough to recall the experience or not. 

Remembering, in Christian practice (and Hebrew thought, I seem to recall being told), is not merely mental recall. To remember is to re-enact the story so as to immerse oneself in the Christian Story, thereby going forth to live it more faithfully.

Think about learning a language. There’s no substitute for an immersion experience to help one speak it naturally. When learning not just a language but a culture also the immersion experience is invaluable. Immersion is critical to learning the language and culture of the Christian Story, and immersion happens through this sort of active remembering–in particular it seems through Scripture and Sacrament, through Word and Water and Bread and Wine. 

So what about forgetting then? Could it be that forgetting for the Christian does not mean losing the ability to perform mental recall on the experience (though most of us know that feeling!)? Could it be that the meaning of forgeting is connected to the meaning of remembering? 

Perhaps forgetting in Christian parlance means to recall the experience/s through personal reflection or public testimoy in order to reject the false story/s that we have lived and their re-enactment in our lives. Perhaps forgetting means recall for the purpose of refusing any further immersion, to expose it and to strip it of power, and to insist  instead on extraction from the false story/s in favor of immersion in the Christian Story–God in Christ reconciling all things to himself. Immersion in this Story begets incorporation in a new community for sake of the world via remembrance. 

If so, one of the disciplines of that community would be the practice of faithful remembering and forgetting.

Published by Guy M Williams

Christian | Husband, Father | Pastor | 8th-Gen Texan | Texas A&M ‘96 | Asbury Seminary ‘01 | Enjoy family, reading, running, golf, college football

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