Sunday, November 4, we will celebrate All Saints, a day in which we honor those from our church who have passed from glory to glory in this past year. As we remember the past, we will also take time to look into our future. Memories of our past inform our future. A life without memories is a life without direction. Think about it. How could you do anything you do if you did not have memories to direct you? There are stories of brain injured people who have no memories at all—everything has to be relearned from moment to moment. There is no past to inform the future, and no forward movement can be made. While living in the present in a good thing, being stuck in the present is not. The proper honoring of our memories gives us impetus to create new ones.
I had a professor once who spoke of “cellular memories” and the phrase really struck me. He had a sense that there are lots of memories built into our souls that we are not really conscious of but which very much affect how we live and the decisions we make. It was his guess that those memories go back for generations and generations. It makes sense—there are memories built into our DNA. They surround us, influence us, sometimes they bring good, sometimes harm. But they are there.
When we worship together, I often have a sense that there are hundreds more people in the room than we see physically around us. Each of us brings with us powerful relationships and these people in our lives are present mentally. Sometimes when I’m alone in our Sanctuary, sitting quietly, I have a sense of thousands and thousands of prayers embedded in the walls. Memories, joys and concerns, hope and despair, friendship and isolation, wedding delights and funeral sorrows. They are all there. When we move to our new location, we’ll need to infuse the new worship space with another set of memories. And it is very, very important that we not lose the special history of our church in the process. The saints who went before us have helped to create the saints who walk among us. And that is what we will do for the next generation. It’s our gift to them. May we do this with grace and generosity.