Rehearse; Repeat; Remember
Lord, You are the God of my waiting, the basis of my hoping. Come, O come, Emmanuel. I welcome You.
Read Psalm 78:40-72
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done…” (1 Chron. 16:11,12).
Psalm 78 is one of several passages of Scripture in which the acts of God in the past are “rehearsed.” It was an encouragement to the people of Israel to repeat the account of these acts, and in so doing to remember. Comprehensive and detailed, the psalm affirms that every memory matters. At stake is not just knowledge of history. At stake is identity. These are the acts that have formed Israel. The people are called, in the legendary phrase of Walter Brueggemann, “to remember who they are by remembering whose they are.” This connection of liturgy to history is an insight into the very nature of worship. The whole reason we have liturgies and songs, hymns and readings and prescribed prayers, is so that we might remember. We are what we are because of God’s actions in the past. His every promise for our future is secured by these same actions. We speak out about what God has done and, in speaking, are drawn deeper into trust. Remember your past, the psalmist calls to us, and ask God for the eyes to see his hand at work in it.
Standing between the faithfulness of God in our past and the promises of God for our future, we align ourselves to his purposes by remembering. Like an actress learning her lines, we repeat to remember. Like exiles singing stories to our children, we remember to survive. Like travelers with our photographs of home, we let memories define us and shape our onward journey. To lose memory is to lose hope. When our grip on God’s actions in our past slips, our hope in God’s assurance for our future weakens. It is hardly surprising that so many of us have lost hope when we have set aside the habit of remembering.
We need to forget past failures and successes so we can move on in growth. However, we mustn’t forget what God has done in our lives. Ponder that and praise him.
Lead me to treasures buried in my past, my God. Amaze me with wonders stored up for my future.