The faith practice of remembering centers our attention on what God has done in our lives, deepening our assurance that God is with us here and now, and expanding our hope and anticipation for what God will yet do.
Remembering: Assurance, Hope, and Anticipation
by Chris Schoon, director of Faith Formation Ministries
Like many other people, I build reminders into my day. I attach sticky notes to the edge of my computer screen or workspace. I set an alarm on my phone to tell me when to get up in the morning so that I can deliver one of my kids to school or work on time. Most of my calendar events have a reminder notification set for 10 minutes before the event. On occasion I email myself a nudge to follow up on something the next day. Admittedly, I need help remembering all sorts of things. Maybe that’s true for you too.
“Do not forget”
I find it interesting then, that as Moses prepared God’s people for life in the promised land, he returned repeatedly to the phrase “Do not forget.”
For example, in Deuteronomy 4:9, Moses urges the people: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Similar commands appear in Deuteronomy 6 and 8, where Moses warns the people not to forget God as they enjoy the material blessings God will give them in the new land. Somehow God understood that even after all of the miraculous interventions to liberate them from slavery in Egypt, Israel would have a tendency to forget about God.
When we hear the whole story of God’s people, we learn that in fact they did forget God and God’s commands many times over. The pattern of turning away from and forgetting God—a pattern that runs from the generation after Joshua all the way through the generations of kings—culminates in exile for God’s people.
Jeremiah picks up the judgment connected to this forgetfulness. “‘I will scatter you like chaff driven by the desert wind.This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘because you have forgotten me and trusted in false gods’” (Jer. 13:24-25). The command “Do not forget” becomes a central anchoring point for the story of God’s people.