How To Avoid Selective Memory


The other day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and I saw some posts from several friends that I used to work with years ago when we were all young.  

Upon closer inspection, I realized with some surprise that these old friends of mine were posting words of hope from the Bible, photos of their children's first communions, baptisms and the like.  

I had to smile because I remembered them differently from the wild, late-night parties we went to in our youth, the crazy escapades we shared and an absolute absence of anything that resembled religiosity, church or any of the things that mark our lives now. 

I also realized that when my old friends see my posts, and watch video of me preaching it has to be a bit of a shock for them, too.  Let's just say I wasn't always a pastor...  

The funny thing is, when I remember my friends, I often forget my own role in our past, choosing instead to fast forward past those stories of mine to brighter and more "honorable" ones.  

Years from now when we look back on this time in our shared history, I wonder what will be written about it.  I'm betting there will be more than a little shifted blame, revised versions of the facts, touched up images, and outright denial.

I know this because that's generally how most of us choose to remember our own painful histories.  It's difficult for us to accept our part in the crises, trials and tribulations we've faced.  

And even in the moments when we had no real agency in them, we often try to re-color our moments of crisis in order to paint ourselves in a better light, to retain the narrative about ourselves that we've written about ourselves... for good or ill.  

I wonder if we'll be honest  about how we acted during this challenging and trying time we've all faced.  I  wonder this, because what we do as a society in this moment has long-lasting repercussions whether we want to admit or not.  

The poet W.H. Auden once wrote: 
What high immortals do in mirth
Is life and death on Middle Earth. 
The good news for us is that we are not alone in the decisions we must make, and the directions we choose to travel as we seek to move forward into the new world.  God's purposes are greater than any challenge we are facing, and God's purposes are ultimate, and certain---even when all else isn't.  

Theologian Walter Brueggeman recently wrote: 
Nonetheless it is clear that this Holy Urge who governs the world is bent toward justice, mercy, truth, and compassion, in the end directed toward neighborly love, which includes the love of neighbors in need, neighbors across all lines of race, territory, tongue, class, and so forth, but also vulnerable neighbors like radishes, rabbits and catfish and elm trees.  
If you are seeking wisdom in your life as you seek to stumble after Jesus forward into the future... If you long for discernment about which road to take... the very best thing that you can do is lean heavily toward God's justice, mercy, truth, compassion and love.  

The choices we all make in the coming weeks and months carry such weight, but we are not bearing those burdens alone.  

Because if we doggedly seek to bring God's shalom to the world, God will be with us, and we'll always be able to look back on this time in our history with a sense of peace and a full measure of hope.  

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  

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