Luke 24:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version)
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
Remembering, at its best, is connective tissue. It bridges past, present, and future. It draws us closer to God and to one another in ways that both allow us to be our own people and make us better together. In this faithful remembering we experience, recount, and move ahead accordingly in a community that bears witness to our testimony, helps us make sense of what we’ve gone through, and supports us in what comes next as a result. We notice how this thing led to that thing that then got us here and how God was with us in all of it, even – maybe especially – the really messy parts. And because of that, we can believe that God will stick with us – often in the guise of others – and will invite us to make beauty and meaning out of all that is wonderful and terrible in this world.
What is the difference between the faithful memory (shown by the women in the Luke text) and nostalgia, in which we take up permanent residence in our memories?
When we find ourselves sliding toward nostalgia, what help might us continue moving forward?
Call to mind a particular memory. What is it? How did you testify about it after the fact? How did it propel you forward? Who were the people who heard your story, helped you understand it, and cheered you on as you put what you’d learned from it to work?
When have you sensed God’s presence and work in, around, and through you most powerfully? What shape did God’s presence take?
Where is God inviting you to use your memories and witness to make beauty and meaning in the midst of all that is wonderful and terrible?
Laura Stephens-Reed is BWIM Alabama state leader and a Clergy & Congregational Coach