This week most, if not all, of our young people started back at nursery and school. I have no memory of my first day of school apart from what my mum has told me in later life. In fact, memories of P1 – P4 at Budhill Primary School (the school no longer exists) are very hazy where they exist at all. One school memory which is very clear is from when I was in Primary 6. The teacher asked what frightened us the most and the #1 thing that scared us all was ‘the News’.
I suspect ‘the News’ of every age is frightening, there are always wars and rumours of war, strife, famines and earthquakes (Matt 24: 6 – 7), and there are those like the fictional Private Frazer from the TV show Dad’s Army who only has one response, “We’re doomed, I tell ye …we’re all doomed.”
Certainly, whether is it conversing with family, neighbours, or work colleagues, or watching / reading / listening to the news, we can all be forgiven for taking on the persona of Private Frazer …my classmates from P6 were right, the news is scary!
Lessons from Psalm 77
On Sunday, as part of our Songs in the Night series, we will look at Psalm 77.
This Psalm starts with cries of despair. This despair is not so much at his/her own circumstances, but at what is happening in the wider world, what is happening to the people of Israel.
Yet, the Psalm ends with a hymn to God’s greatness.
What causes this change? How can we learn from it? How does this help us change the narrative of “we’re doomed, …we’re all doomed?”
I wonder as you read Psalm 77 what your answer are to these questions?
Certainly, I am struck by how often in this Psalm the psalmist says he/she remembers, reflects, and meditates on God’s past deeds. I certainly know that too often when it comes to remembering what God has done in my life, in this church, in the lives of people around me, it can be like recalling my early school years …my memory is hazy and incomplete.
My dad, brother, sister, and my mum when she was alive, help me remember that which I’ve forgotten. They are like an external hard drive I can plug into to access files that are missing or corrupted in my memory. So often for me, it is in the dynamic of remembering together with others that blanks are filled in and things forgotten brought back to memory.
A Community of Dangerous Memory
We often talk of church being a family, and certainly, I suspect that one of the reason God calls us, and places us in a family we call church, is so that we have parents and siblings in the Lord who can help our faulty memories.
It is in the dynamic of remembering together what God has done, that what I have forgotten or missed is recalled, and so faith and hope are stirred up anew.
Yet, this is not, and should not be a reminiscing that anchors us in some rose-tinted past which, if we remember clearly, were not the halcyon days we now picture them as. What we recall is not the absence of trouble or challenges, but God’s action in the midst of those days.
Our remembering God’s “wonders of old” (Psalm 77:11) are dangerous memories. They are dangerous memories because remembering what God has done reminds us of God’s character and of his promises of what he will do. They transform cries of “we’re doomed” to you are the God who saves, “you are the God doing wonders” (v14).
See you on Sunday.
Spera in Deo