One of the great themes of the faith became one of my own mantras over the years. It is a quote that I used every day I would drop my children off for school when they were young … it is what I say every time we celebrate The Baptism of the Lord. Anyone who has heard me preach long enough knows how important a phrase it is to me.
Remember Who You Are!
As my children grew, it was so tempting to go deeper in explaining what it meant, but I decided that such explanation would dilute or limit its meaning. While I have preached about it and have attempted to plumb the depths of its meaning for myself, I keep coming back to new revelations, and I hope that to be the same for my children and all who have heard it said.
Remember Who You Are!
We think of “remembering” as a cognitive act. It is to call something to mind … to reach into the places of memory and bring something to mind or to speech. So often, faith has been the same way. We have narrowed it down to “belief” … itself a cognitive function without anything more than recollection and recitation for many Christians through the millennia.
But what if we use the word “remember” opposite the word “dismember?” It is now more than cognitive function. To dismember is to actively dismantle. It is to weaken and destroy. It is to actively take something … or someone … apart. If we see the word “dismember” as active destruction, might we not see “remember” as active construction or, more precisely, reconstruction?
Some may recall that I have quoted Father Richard Rohr as he talks about the three movements through life: order, disorder, and reorder. It falls in line with academic understandings of construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction, and it likewise reflects the biblical and theological ideas of life, death, and resurrection.
What if we add another way of thinking here? I am proposing that maybe member, dismember, and remember might be appropriate ways of understanding that same flow.
To put this in more spiritual terms, God has “membered” us. The word “member” has to do with belonging. Our bodies are membered together, and all creation is membered together in sacred community.
We belong to God … we belong to ourselves … we belong to one another. At Wellspring, we take pride in an early way of talking about discipleship (thanks to our founding pastor, the Reverend Nancy Woods). The steps are:
Before we articulate our faith … before we become stronger disciples … before we are asked to move into ministries of caring for our world and others … before we even see ourselves as connected … WE BELONG. It is about being “membered.”
Then there is the dismembering. It is the tearing apart at the fabric of a unified and unifying spirit. It is what we do when we become self-centered. It is the destruction of our planet and our environment. It is the destruction of the lives of people … especially people who find themselves already marginalized. It is what happens when we systematically tear families apart, whether they are at our borders, in our inner-cities, in our neighborhoods, or in our own homes.
This is the place of brokenness we are talking about this season. It is about the feeling of “dismemberment.”
Then we are invited to the act of “remembering.” Not just to call forth in our minds, but to actively seek wholeness beyond brokenness … hope beyond despair … light beyond darkness … life beyond death. It is what leaders at Wellspring are working to do for our congregation. It is to put the members back together.
I am convinced that this, my friends, is the call of Christ!
Remember who you are!
God, you are the one who calls us to places of belonging. You walk with us through the places of brokenness. You invite us to remember! Amen.