Monday, May 29, 2017

Re-membering Well


I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds
Psalm 77:11-12

On this Memorial Day Weekend, I am remembering, and still shaken by, the recent violent events which rocked my city only days ago: a man, full of hatred and violence, murdered two courageous men and injured a third when the three defended two teenage girls being harassed by racist, hurtful slurs. A group of strangers, united only by their encounter on the MAX train line, found themselves in a life-and-death moment which tragically ended in loss of life. I am deeply grieved that something so horrific--a racist hate crime and a domestic act of terrorism--could occur so close to home. I am also deeply humbled by the real-life Good Samaritan story of two individuals who took action to help and serve their neighbors--teenagers, no less, making this a true youth ministry tale--and in doing so, lost their lives.

I also remember a friend from high school, 1st Lt. Brian Bradshaw, a soldier in the US Army who was killed on June 25, 2009 in the war in Afghanistan. A bomb exploded near his vehicle. He was 24 years old. I remember his sarcasm and humor, as well as his depth of insight and principled actions. He served his family and friends and neighbors and strangers, and lost his life serving his country. I remember all of my friends and family who have served in the military or been affected by its ubiquitous presence in American culture.

I remember the bombs dropped by American drones and planes on civilian lives in the Middle East, the Coptic Christians in Egypt who were killed this past week by ISIS, the Manchester bombing. There are so many acts of violence or injustice in recent weeks as to become a blurred ink smear on the pages of history. One can easily become cynical or despairing. Yet I also remember the good news of the kingdom of heaven, and how death has been conquered by resurrection life.

Laying down one's life for another may be the ultimate act of sacrificial love. Yet there are family members and friends left behind, grieving in the land of the living. Even within a sacrificial act, like the two men who defended the teens or Brian Bradshaw's service, there is pain and less. It is sobering to think of one's life and story in light of those who have been lost, and to integrate the memories into individual and communal narratives. We must remember well; we must re-member.

To re-member is to put flesh and blood on memories, to enact practices and habits in light of the past as a faithful step into the future. Memories can dissolve with time; re-membering raises them back into concrete existence. It is an invitation to re-member, re-gather, re-create, and re-call. It is an invitation of faith, hope, and love.

Responding to this invitation, I am also remembering God's faithfulness and providence in my life, the moments of unexpected blessing and sheer delight that comes from being a recipient of divine generosity. Katie recently had the idea to begin a journal collecting the stories of God's provision in our lives. It is a chronicle of answered prayers, both those intentionally articulated and those unspoken and even unknown by us at the time. Through Jesus, there were medical bills paid, housing provided, friendships discovered, opportunities presented, doors both closed and opened, and courage given. It's a spiritual discipline of sorts, taking the time to search our memories, both recent and distant, and writing down what we find there when we search for Christ's presence. We are re-membering, giving flesh to and creating a narrative body from the scattered stories of Jesus moving in our midst.

We leave for Scotland on September 2, traveling first to New York, then getting on a plane to Edinburgh on September 4 and arriving the following morning. Between these three-day weekends bookending the summer months--Memorial Day to Labor Day--we will continue to re-member God's faithful presence and action in our lives, even as we attempt to practice faithfulness ourselves. We are still waiting and searching for a accommodations in St Andrews, still waiting for information on visas and loans, still raising support as we give away or sell our belongings in anticipation of moving across the world. It can be a nerve-wracking endeavor, but we are re-membering God's goodness, and thus can step into the unknown with a genuine sense of hope and peace. I think of the picture of our family above, taken on the coast of Maui, facing into the wind and moving towards the edge of the jagged cliff, new horizons before us as we step forward together. I remember....

Would you re-member with us, and remember us, in your prayers and in your advocacy? You can support us financially through our campaign, and continue to follow our journey here at JoelMayward.com.

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