Thursday, August 10, 2017

Remembering by Colleen O’Sullivan

Moses said to the people: “Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon earth; ask from one end of the sky to the other:  Did anything so great ever happen before?  Was it ever heard of?...  Out of the heavens, He let you hear his voice to discipline you; on Earth, he let you see his great fire, and you heard him speaking out of the fire.  For love of your fathers, he chose their descendants and personally led you out of Egypt by his great power, driving out of your way nations greater and mightier than you, so as to bring you in and to make their land your heritage, as it is today.  This is why you must now know and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.  (Deuteronomy 4:32, 36-39)

I remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I remember your wonders of old.  And I meditate on your works; your exploits I ponder.  (Psalm 77:12-13)

O Lord, God of all in heaven and earth, open my eyes each day to your continuing acts of goodness. 

In today’s first reading, Moses invites the people of Israel to join with him on a journey of remembrance.  “Did anything so great ever happen before?” he asks the people.   He gives them examples – God speaking to them from the fire, God choosing them for God’s own, and God going so far as to confound nations greater than Israel so that Israel could make it to the land promised them. 

At one point in their history, the people of Israel saw their God as the most powerful god among many.  Here, however, Moses declares that there never were any other gods!  There is only this one God, the one who has done so much out of love for God’s people. 

Remembering is a good thing.  Remembering can serve to strengthen the bonds between us.  Think about the times we gather with family to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, holidays, baptisms, and even funerals.  Inevitably, someone will start reminiscing and pretty soon everyone is caught up in “remembering when.”  Those family memories are a sign of all that binds us together.

Moses mentions the wondrous acts of God as ties that bind the people to their God and to each other.  In the wilderness, there were times when all this was forgotten.  When the people were hungry, they didn’t put their trust in God to feed them; they wished to return to slavery in Egypt, where they at least had something to eat.  They forgot God’s faithfulness to them and built themselves a golden calf to worship when Moses wasn’t around.  Remember, Moses says, the amazing, loving acts of our God.  The memories keep us in relationship with God.

The great and wondrous deeds of our God continue to manifest themselves throughout history.  When we think of Jesus, the Son of God, who could have remained with his Father and the Holy Spirit, willingly coming to earth to take on our humanity, Moses’ questions are equally relevant:  Did anything so great ever happen before?  Was it ever heard of?   Or a God whose Son died for us, taking our sins to the Cross that we could be forgiven.  A God who raised his Son from the dead that we could share in eternal life in God’s Kingdom.   Did anything so great ever happen before?  Was it ever heard of?

God continues to work amazing deeds today in your lives and mine.  Looking back and remembering how God has been at work in our lives is time well spent.  The memories bind us forever to this God who loves us and to all of God’s family.   When times of trouble come, and they will to all of us, we have the memories to sustain us in moments of desolation.  If God, who doesn’t change, has been good to us as far back as we can remember, we can be sure that God is still working for our good, even if we can’t see it right then.

When you have some quiet time, look back over your life’s journey and see if you can discern the pattern of God’s great working in you.

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