What is the opposite of remember?


Well, in a sense, the opposite of remember is to forget. We do a lot of remembering in church, but what we are doing is not simply not-forgetting. Neither are we simply calling to mind.

For the sake of this sermon, I invite you to consider that for the type of remembering that we do in church, the opposite of re-member is to dis-member.

When we re-member, which is the kind of remembering that we do habitually in church, we are not so much calling things to mind but calling things together. Putting the pieces of this fragmented and fractured world together again. Putting the members back together in a way which makes some kind of sense of the often cruel and difficult world in which we live.

Way of thinking about remembering might be rather odd to you, so take a moment to let that sink in. Putting things back together.

Re-membering is o­ne of the keys to the kind of religious faith which we proclaim day by day and week by week here in St Saviour?s. And it is a little different to the way in which some churches think of remembering.

For many in the churches, remembering is just that ? calling to mind something which would otherwise be forgotten. If you get into conversation with someone from the church of Scotland, for example, and discuss what is happening at communion, you may well find that a strong theme is the remembering, the keeping in mind of an event.

When, in this kind of Episcopal church we think of remembering at the Eucharist, we have a sense of calling together all the  church through the ages ? putting the members together at the altar table in worship of the Lord of Eternity. When I celebrate the Eucharist, I do it celebrating not just in the here and now but as the priest at every table where thanks are offered and songs of worship sung. There is something cosmic ? yes, cosmic about speaking the words of the Eucharist ? remembering the o­ne who at table with friends gave thanks to God, explained the scriptures, prayed for his friends and shared bread and wine.

When we do that in the Eucharist ? it comes alive again. Those elements of that sacred meal are re-membered, not just remembered. They are brought together again. And we worship with Christ in the divine present. The Lord Jesus is the o­ne who celebrates the feast and invites all who are willing to come and share.

That kind of remembering ? making present, calling together by telling stories has been the stock in trade of the Christian church throughout all the ages.

The early church gathered itself together amidst great persecution. The members were scattered. The members were o­n trial. The members were often killed, harmed, imprisoned. Re-membering the members of the Body of Christ did not simply mean not-forgetting them, but the very knitting together of a church which would o­ne day cloak the world.

When we pray for others now, we do the same. Not just calling them to mind, but weaving within ourselves a blanket of goodwill which is ever increasing, ever extending, growing in the present and expanding into the future ? a blanket of care providing warmth for all of God?s creatures.

Prayer is o­ne way we re-member. o­ne way we knit together. Telling stories is another. After I was preaching about funerals and death last week, quite a lot of you told me stories. You told me about the way in which people tell stories when things get hard. That story telling is not just remembering what has happened- it is a way of making sense of what happened.

God?s people need to make sense of a world which is often confused and difficult to live in. A world of war and violence. A world of racism and hatred. A world of poverty and despair.

And amidst it all, God?s people sing their songs and tell their stories.

You can see this happening in the Bible. In the Hebrew story we had this morning, we heard the re-telling, of Ruth?s story ? the re-membering (drawing together) of Ruth and her forbidden lover Boaz. The story told to re-member different races ? a story told to assure us that God?s love was alive in the love affair that developed between someone who was Jewish and someone who was not. A story told to call God?s people to remember that racism and prejudice may rule in the human present but have no place in God?s eternity.

Remember with all God?s people this day the story of the poor widow coming out of the Jerusalem treasury. A story which tells us that though meanness may rule human hearts, generosity is possible for any o­ne of God?s people. A story which tells us that though poverty may rule in the human here and now, sharing, generosity and joy will rule in God?s everlasting.

The stories of the Greek Testament are the work of a church scattered and lost, dispersed and dismembered. The stories brought them back together.
?Do you remember??, they asked as they gathered their stories,
?Do you remember what Jesus did??
?Do you remember what Jesus said?

Do you, you sitting here in St Saviour?s, disciples still, here and now, do you remember?

This is what happens when God?s people remember. They re-member too. They draw all the members together with their memories. The world is full of dreary stories of human sadness. As God?s people, let us go o­n re-membering. In a world of war and pain, poverty and despair, let us remember. Re-membering stories which bring freedom, justice and joy.

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