Lesson 6: Remembering

Remembering to RememberLet’s take a few weeks to construct a 21st century Sabbath life style. That will mean discussing a modern application of the reasons the scriptures offer for observing a special day of the week.

Some of my friends still practice a day of rest. They remain in bed until mid morning, take time to read the newspaper, and generally engage in what our society regards as recreation. However, they see no need to worship, because they think our society has “come of age.” Having matured, we no longer need parental instruction from God.

Others argue just the opposite. If we have really become wise, we understand the need for regular worship in order to critique what is happening and to determine what we should be doing in the future. A primary element in modern Sabbath behavior would be worship in a community at least once a week.

The wording of the Commandment suggests one reason for the Sabbath is to “remember.” We are to remember important things busy people tend to forget. The scriptures constantly describe “remembering” as an essential component of the religious life.

In Deuteronomy 8, the Jews are warned once they have been successful in the land of milk and honey that God promised them, they are liable to forget his part in their well being. Therefore, they are to remember from where they came. They were once slaves whom God led to freedom.

We take time out on the Sabbath first to remember God, who too often is lost in our obsessive pursuit of happiness. So, we gather to read the lessons, listen to the sermon, profess the creed, and sing the liturgy. We hear passages telling the Jews to remember the promise God made to them. Other passages remind the Gentiles that they were once outside that covenant. When early Christians are told to remember what Jesus told them, we hear the words addressed to us.

Worship helps us remember who we are as well. There are always parts of our lives we try hard to forget. Confession calls us to remember our sins. No matter how accomplished we are, we hear, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” On the other hand, no matter how insignificant we have been led to think we are, we are told to remember we are beloved children of God.

Beyond God and real self, we also are called to remember the people we try to eliminate from our thoughts. The prayers try to mention them all. We look across the nave and see many of them. Jesus admonishes us to leave and settle the score if worship causes us to remember a brother or sister who has something against us. Hebrews 13 advises us to remember those in prison as if we were there with them and those being tortured as if we were tortured. And Galatians 2 says to remember the poor, an admonishment we moderns have gone to lengths to avoid.

Celebrating the communion meal as a remembrance of Jesus is the epitome of worship. It highlights the tradition and community essential to Christian life. We gather around a table to remember Jesus’ Last Supper that accents our betrayal and his faithfulness. We share the meal with all kinds of people with whom we normally would not eat, reminding us we are all equals in God’s sight. Nowhere else do we find this honesty that reminds us who we are and what we should be doing.

We need to stop and remember now more than ever. It is important to take a rest from the hectic pace of our modern technological world, but resting itself is not enough. We also need to reflect, evaluate, and change. We have not outgrown the need to worship regularly with a community. The only adjustment is creating Sabbath opportunities on days other than Sundays, so those who have to work have a chance to rest and reflect as well.

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