Lest we forget
How is your memory? Probably not as good as that of the actress Marilu Henner who has the rare condition ‘hyperthymesia’. Marilu is able to remember every day of her life as if it were yesterday. “When someone asks me about a particular day, it’s like I’m looking for a scene on a DVD playing before me,” she told the Sunday Times. “In a second I’m back there, looking at the scene as I saw it. I can focus in on details, like the title of a book.”
Memory is an essential ingredient of our humanity – it is vital to be able to remember how to look after ourselves, to remember who our friends are, and, indeed, who we ourselves are. Much of what we remember is automatic, but some things we need intentionally to remember by, for example, setting alarms, leaving notes on the fridge, and holding special events.
November is a month of remembrance. The 5th is when we remember Guy Fawkes and the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. That key time in our national history has been formative for our sense of national identity. The 11th is another day when we remember those involved in events whose importance is not just national but global. We remember with gratitude those in the armed forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedom. And for us as a family, the 16th is a day when we remember and celebrate the birth of one of our four children – a rather dramatic delivery as it turned out – and the blessing and wonder of that new life.
Each of these events is marked symbolically and regularly and strengthens our sense of identity and unity. The Christian faith similarly celebrates symbolically and regularly an event which determines our identity and unites us. In the Lord’s Supper, also known as Holy Communion or the Eucharist, we look to three key events.
Firstly we look back to its precursor – the Jewish Passover meal. This key event marked the beginnings of the Jewish nation when they were rescued from slavery in Egypt, and defined the nation as God’s chosen people. Secondly, we remember the Last Supper before the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection secured for us freedom from sin and death. Thirdly, we look forward to the future time of celebration, likened in the Bible to a feast in God’s glorious presence. This wonderful prospect inspires and motivates us in our Christian lives.
Identity, sacrifice and celebration. To remember is an essential part of life and that which roots, orientates and sustains us. To remember is part of what it is to be human. This November let’s take time to remember, and be thankful.
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton