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Life is full of Memories



Tomb by Ann Lewin

The place of remembering:

whereas the work of grief is done,

memory recovers its perspective.


Letting the dead one go,

with aching sense of loss,

opens the way to finding again

a rounded person, gifts and faults

delights and irritations;

makes it possible to share again

the jokes, the intimate glance,

keep company unseen.


What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)


November is a month for remembering.


All around us people are wearing poppies, a symbol that we remember the lives of those lost in war. But today, we come, possibly with some trepidation, to remember quietly those whom we have loved and who have died recently.


It isn’t easy to remember, when remembering brings back the pain of our loss. It isn’t easy to remember when the relationship we shared had its difficulties or when we feel that there were things we wanted to do or say but didn’t get the chance. Sometimes remembering is the last thing that we want to do or are able to do…


So, don’t underestimate the courage it has taken many of us to come to churches for these services, to gather with others who have experienced loss, to remember and honour our loved ones in whatever way feels appropriate for us at this time.


The Christian faith has a strong tradition of remembering. As Jesus approached his own death, we’re told that he shared a simple meal with his friends. He urged them to remember him every time they break bread or drink together. He knew that he was going to die but he wanted his friends to know that he would never leave them.


Jesus invited his friends to remember him every time they ate bread or drank wine – an act of remembrance associated with life and all that lies ahead, not simply what lies behind us. I know that for many of us there will be times of day or simple acts that remind us of the person we have lost – it may be as we close the curtains at the end of the day or boil the kettle to make a cup of tea – that we say goodnight or good morning to the one we still love. Sometimes the act of remembering will trip us up as we seem to forget what has happened, at other times the act of remembering is our greatest comfort and strength.


In the poem we heard read a few moments ago Ann Lewin writes of how, as we work through our grief, our “memory recovers its perspective.” We don’t just remember them as a saint, but we start to remember the way they got on our nerves or the things that drove us mad – or at least the potential for that to happen.


As we begin to remember the things that made us laugh and the things that made us cross, the things that made us proud and the ways they could embarrass us, it’s as though the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle are coming back together again…


When we lose someone dear to us, it’s as though a jigsaw puzzle has been thrown up into the air and all the pieces have been scattered far and wide. As we remember, the pieces start to come together – only the picture isn’t quite the same. We have to look closely at what is emerging, but there, in the new picture, is the possibility that we can still love the one we have lost and that the life we did share with them has made a difference to the people we are now.


Ann’s poem talks of how “letting the dead one go… opens the way to finding again…”


It is a paradox and for some of us it may take many years to reach beyond the “aching sense of loss” but every time we remember we gather some of the fragments together and the new picture starts to get clearer…


Paul’s letter to those in Rome who were trying to follow in Christ’s way is a remarkable message of the power of love in difficult times. He asks what power there is that can separate us from love and answers it by saying nothing… I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


It takes courage to remember. Take courage from Paul’s words that absolutely nothing, not even our grief, can separate up from the love that we have shared with those we have lost – love is stronger than death and love is of God.


Memories don’t just connect us with the past, you see, memories are also what connect us with the future, with hope and new life. As we remember, as the fragments start to come together and we see new possibilities emerging, may we become ever more aware of the bond of love that cannot be broken and, in time, may we become familiar with that place where we can “keep company unseen” even, perhaps, sharing again the intimate glance of a love that cannot be overcome…


Sources

All About Heaven - David Oliver

Remember God - Annie F. Downs

Remembering Jesus: Christian Community, Scripture, and the Moral Life - Allen D. Verhey

Remember Me: A Novella about Finding Our Way to the Cross - Sharon Garlough Brown

The Strength in Our Scars - Bianca Sparacino

Remembering the Forgotten God - Francis Chan

When God said Remember – Mark Finley

The Sanity of Belief : Why Faith Makes Sense - Simon Edwards

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