The theme of remembering echoes like a trumpet call through both the Old and the New Testaments:
“But God remembered Noah.. . .” (Gen. 8:1)
“I will remember my covenant between me and you. . . .” (Gen. 9:15)
“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done. . . .” (Ps. 143:5)
“Do this in remembrance of me. . . .” (Luke 22:19)
BibleGateway.com observes that “the Hebrew word translated ‘remembered’ often carries the sense of acting in accordance with what is remembered, i.e., fulfilling covenant promises.” So remembering goes beyond mere “recalling.” Remembering, in the biblical sense, is about memory prompting us to take action. (Interestingly, memories are created when neurons activate in our brains . . . so even the process of making a memory involves action!)
Say a loved one has a birthday coming up. You see a note on your calendar and say to yourself “Oh yeah, I remember!” Do you just go on your merry way then, figuring that the act of remembering itself is enough to express your love? No! You plan a party, send a card, buy a gift—you do something physical that shows your loved one that you remember them.
In Joshua 3 and 4, God made a miraculous path for the Israelites through the Jordan River as they followed the ark of the covenant into the Promised Land. But as soon as they were across the river, God stopped them in their tracks and instructed them to build a memorial that would last for generations. So twelve men heaved twelve stones out of the riverbed and set them up on top of each other. Those twelve men would never forget the feel of the heavy, slippery river rock. And the people who saw the stones would remember what God had done and tell that story to others.
Remembering is a faith practice, or spiritual discipline, just like prayer or hospitality. It’s a muscle we need to exercise. We’re called to remember God, to remember God’s works, to remember Christ’s sacrifice. But in order for us to grow from all that remembering, we need to do something: make a memorial, tell a story, celebrate with others, serve God and our neighbor.
What might you create, say, or do to help you and others remember? What physical reminder could you add to your home or your office to help you stop and focus on God? How can you weave the practice of remembering into your daily rhythms?
For ideas, check out the Remembering resources on the Faith Practices Project site (crcna.org/FaithPracticesProject). And share your favorite way to remember God and God’s mighty acts in the comments below!