By REV. JUNE JOHNSON
St. John’s Episcopal Church
Driving around lately I have been tuning in one of my favorite radio channels—singers like Sinatra, Clooney, Feinstein and others considered great performers of the American songbook.
They sing songs of love, love beginning and ending, old and new, even the second time around. I really like these old songs.
The tunes stay in my head and the words are interesting, sophisticated and smooth on the tongue. So what do old songs have to do with anything?
Life is both long and so very short.
Old songs bring old memories, enrich present experiences, connect things past with things we want to be. Sometimes whole chapters of our lives come to mind with a wisp of a song or the fragrance of something baking. Even the curve of a fender on a passing car can awaken old stories.
One of the fun things at family gatherings or reunions with friends is telling the old stories, laughing about the silly things we did together, playing “remember when….” As we tell those stories, we are telling what matters to us, what we value, who we value.
We are cementing relationships, confirming our places in the family tree and praising the people we trust and love. Our ideals are on display as well as our joys and our tragedies.
Memories link our past to our present and give shape to our future. Memory is a gift from God that helps us understand who we are and who God is. God is the God of our past, present and future, but for God these are all the same.
All of time exists in God at the same time—we are the ones who are linear in our thinking and living. I experience the past as past while God holds my past and future in God’s hand right now. One of God’s gifts to me is that I can hold the past in memory, learning from it, reliving its joys and benefiting from its lessons.
There is a cliché that says what is done is done. And that is true.
But as God holds our past, God can use it to teach us how to be more like God’s self in our present. When we focus only on what we did in the past that was bad or wrong or brings us shame, we are missing the opportunity to learn from God.
Yes, there are things for which we should ask forgiveness, but there are also things of which we can be proud. Times when we actually did listen to God, times when we actually chose to do the right thing, the thing that benefited another. When we fail to remember those things, we are cutting off a channel that God can use to teach and lead us closer to God’s self.
This summer season as flowers bloom and trees are so green, as the world puts on a show of great beauty just to please God, go looking for those old good memories. The times that God’s blessings were evident in your life and the times you felt God close to you. Ask for forgiveness where you need to, and know that you are forgiven because God wants to put more joy into your life.
Remember that God loves you.
Remember. Use the gift of memory for blessing yourself and others.