Remembering God

In John 8:31-44, Jesus is in an argument with some of his critics. He says something about "free," and they rise up and say, "How can you say that you will make us free? We are free!"

Jesus says to them, "Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin."

Right! It is of the nature of sin to enslave us, to hold us captive in its grip. Once we have committed a sin, it embeds itself in our memories, sometimes in other people's memories of us. And how do you get free from that?

Jesus told his critics that day in John, "If the Son of Man makes you free, you will be free indeed."

Maybe that is why, throughout the gospels, Jesus goes from place to place, constantly forgiving people. Sometimes it seems as if everybody Jesus encounters is met with, "Your sin is forgiven." They don't even have to ask for forgiveness.

Jesus understands that there is some past that ought not to be remembered, that love demands a clinch-fisted determination to forget, not as a way of saying that the wrong that is suffered does not matter, but that it is wrong for it to constantly enrage us.

 So someone who made a terrible mistake says, "This is going to mess up my entire life. I don't think I will ever be able to get beyond this"

We hope he was wrong. We hope that there really is a power that enables newness of life. If not, then he really is enslaved forever.

As the old story goes…"Do you remember that terrible thing that I did to you a long time ago?" she was asked.

"I have decided not to remember that terrible thing," she said. "Let's begin again." Such is newness of life.

 “After the accidental death of a young man that grieved the whole community, the kind of death that can test anyone's faith in God, I read in a sermon a portion of one of the Chrysostom's sermons on Divine Providence. Imagine someone without the least notion of agriculture, he says, "observing a farmer collecting grain and shutting it in a barn to protect it from damp. Then he sees the same farmer take the same grain and cast it to the winds, spearing it on the ground, maybe even in the mud, without worrying any more about the dampness. Surely he will think that the farmer has ruined the grain, and reprove the farmer." The reproof comes from ignorance and impatience, Chrysostom says; only waiting until the end of the summer, he would see the farmer harvest that grain, and be astonished at how it has multiplied. So much the more, he adds, should "we await the final outcome of events, remembering who it is who ploughs the earth of our souls." I hoped it helped just a bit, to remind people that when the tragic, inexplicable events comes, one of the hardest things to accept is that we don't have answers or explanations enough to cover the way they tear us up inside.”

Writer Kathleen Norris, with these words, reminds us that great tragedy cannot be explained. It can only be placed in the context of our remembrance of the love and grace of God. The tough thing is to forget the tragedy and to remember God:


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