Andy Hawes is Warden of
Edenham Regional Retreat House
Psalm 132 begins ‘remember David and all his trouble’ – the plea for the Lord to remember is one that echoes throughout Scripture and is taken up by Christ in the institution of the Eucharist in his command to do this ‘ in remembrance of me.’ Because of this it is in the Eucharist, through the classical Eucharistic Prayers of both East and West, that we place all our memorials – our prayers of remembering – in the one great remembering of the death and resurrection of Jesus ‘who ever lives to make intercession for us.’
Most readers will have their own ‘litany of remembrance’ – significant anniversaries of birth and death, of the dates that mark moments of change and transformation in our personal and family lives. The same is true for communities and this month our nation has its services and festivals of remembrance. In the same way the liturgical year is made up of memorials. To remember is the first cause of most of our individual prayer and corporate worship. With all this in mind it is worthwhile to review our own discipline of remembrance. Many people say ‘I will remember you in my prayers’ – but how do they go about honouring the promise?
Although we may not have the either the inclination or administrative skills to create some kind of ‘personal ordo’, at the very least we should make sure that significant anniversaries do not pass without a prayer of intercession said or a thanksgiving made. To ‘remember’, in its literal sense, means to ‘reconnect things’. For the Christian remembrance is a cause to reconnect our own faith journey with that of others both living and departed.
This ‘discipline of remembrance’ is not an end in itself. It is an opening up, through the door of our memory, of the mystery of time and eternity, and a means of recalling us to one of the central realities of the spiritual life that we can only live in the present and in eternity. Remembrance ‘transposed’ into the register of intercession and thanksgiving is a means of letting go of the past and the future and drawing closer to Christ who is Lord of ‘all times and all ages.’
The vocation to remember is planted deep within us by the work of the Holy Spirit who calls us to look for and work for the reconciliation of all things which is both the end and meaning of our Christian life. We believe that God will judge us all in a loving and true remembering of all we are and have been. We also believe as the prophet Isaiah taught that although a mother may forget her child yet the Lord ‘will always remember thee.’ Made in his image and likeness we are made to remember and in Christ we are called to be faithful, to pray without ceasing, always remembering both the good and the bad, the small and the great moments of our life, and in our remembering place them in the eternal purpose of the love of God.