Happy 2014! I graduate university this year. More importantly, SHERLOCK LIVES and the TFIOS movie comes out!!! If you had no idea what that last sentence meant, we probably shouldn’t be friends. Just kidding. I’d still like you as a person, I’d just question your life choices.
So maybe you’ve heard of this One Word movement floating around (if not, check it out here: http://www.incourage.me/2014/01/rewriting-resolutions-choosing-one-word.html) Basically, instead of making a list of things you know you’re not going to do anyways, you choose one word to focus on for the year. Actually, the word kind of chooses you. Last year, my word was “hope”. Focusing on “hope” impacted my life in major ways, some of which I’ve talked about in prior posts (in a nutshell: hope is a Person. Boom.) This post is the story of how my word of the year, “remember”, choose me. It’s a long one. I applaud anyone who actually reads this besides my Mom.
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened, and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and all the rest.” Luke 24: 1- 9
In Luke 24:1-9, we hear the account of two women encountering unexpected celestial visitors while visiting Jesus’ tomb. The women had gone to the tomb to finish embalming Jesus’ body, an expected practice in caring for the dead. You could suppose the women were there because they had forgotten the words of Jesus, the promise of his resurrection.Then again, maybe it wasn’t necessarily because they forgot his words, but because those words seemed a bit ridiculous. I mean, this guy turned water into wine, and went all Jewish mother and fed all the people he was with using a scarce amount of food, but reanimating dead tissue? And your own dead tissue at that? But then again, Jesus’ body isn’t in the tomb. Then these two men in “dazzling” (goal for 2014: use “dazzling” as an adjective frequently) apparel show up as the women are pondering whether or not this is the Zombie apocalypse, and the dazzling men say “Remember? Remember how he told you this would happen?” And the women remember Jesus’ words. They return to tell the story of what they had seen, and pretty much no one believes them until Peter runs to the tomb to see for himself (Peter is a visual learner). This one particular phrase “And they remembered his words” stood out to me, and that’s kind of what this post is all about.
I first heard the phrase “remember Jesus” during a sermon preached by the pastor of the Swahili congregation at my church. He said the phrase over and over again, and it stuck itself deep into my cerebral cortex. “Remember Jesus”. What does that phrase even mean? Is it some post-evangelical WWJD slogan I can mass- produce in friendship bracelet style to pass out at youth camps? That could potentially be rad, but I want to steer away from making this a trite slogan.
The word “remember” in Greek is “mnaomai”, and in the present tense, it means “to be mindful of”. The women’s act of remembering was an act of being mindful of the words of Jesus. Let that sit a minute. Be mindful of those words. What was the action their mindfulness produced? They went and told the others of what they experienced. Is remembering Jesus a call to evangeliize? Go and tell others? Go and preach on street corners? Yes and no. I think the call to “remember Jesus”, is a present-tense action which should permeate our very lives, every action we make. It’s being mindful. Mindfulness allows you to focus, to be fully present in a moment, to “think about your thoughts”, so to say. It lets you slow down, re-focus, center. Remember Jesus.
The most beautiful example of mindfulness I can think of happened when I was in Mexico recently. My family and I are very involved in a ministry that has a Children’s Home and a Babies Home. These homes are for children who are orphans, or are removed from their family situation for any reason. I was sitting on the floor of the Babies Home, playing with one of the girls as another little one sat on my friend’s lap, facing away from my friend’s face. The little one was becoming increasingly more distressed by all the sights, sounds and noises going on around her. My friend quickly turned her around, and reassured her of her safety. I saw this beautiful moment of connection between my friend and this child, as the child gazed into my friend’s face and was reassured. Remember, little one? Remember how you are safe here with me? When we become forgetful, or preoccupied, or distracted, we forget who we are, and whose we are. Remembrance is a verb, mindfully focusing on one thing. At its core, I think remembering Jesus is remembering the certainty and reality of Christ. He is not here, he did not die and decay, he is risen. Remember the resurrection?Remember who he is, what he has done, what he will do. Remember his words, his promises. It will effect every action, every breath. Remember Jesus. Turn around, cast your eyes on his face, and remember. Remember Jesus.
And yes, remembering Jesus sometimes means running down a dusty road and telling your friends of the amazing thing you just experienced. And remembering Jesus is washing dishes and folding laundry. And remembering Jesus is holding babies and wiping snotty noses. Because the action of remembering Jesus brings holy into the ordinary. Remember Jesus.
My prayer for this year is that I would Remember Jesus. That I would not be afraid to let this remembrance alter me, as it should. Amen.