Thought for the Month (November 2016)

November is a time for remembering:
'Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot'

Or, much more importantly:
'They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.'

I'm not sure if it's an indication of my ageing, or perhaps something else, but I find myself increasingly looking back and remembering and reflecting on people who have had significant influence on me and events affecting me; and reflecting on what happened subsequently.

Memory is a wonderful gift and a rich resource for pleasure, reflection or wisdom as we plan future events, share with others and simply meet each new day. It's amazing how walking into somewhere completely new where I have never been before and smelling something familiar can bring back a host of memories from childhood or a family event or anything. The scent of tomato plants always transports me back to childhood and images of my dad in his greenhouse tending to his tomatoes. Occasionally a smell will trigger memories which take me back to places and people I haven't thought about for years; memories stored away in files long forgotten but not lost.

Memory has become even more precious as I meet people whose memories are failing because of illness or some form of dementia. A very dear friend of many years developed Alzheimer's and as she deteriorated we witnessed her moving into a world of her own. It was a traumatic period when the family realised that she no longer knew who they were and was content to spend her time walking in circles and humming to herself.

She was a wonderful Christian woman who influenced many people by her lifestyle, manner, grace and love for others. One day after visiting the family I asked if we could pray together before leaving, her family asked our friend if she would join us. She sat next to me and as we prayed was silent and still and when we said 'Amen' she joined us and for a fleeting moment the lovely friend was back with us. A short time later we received a phone call to say she had died.

When he was taken by the mob at Gethsemane Jesus told them to let those with him go and then it says:
This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: 'I have not lost one of those you gave me.'

Those words were precious to our friend's family. A reminder that we are secure in Him NOT because of what we have, offer or are but because HE is faithful, He is sure, He is true.

There is another promise in scripture which I often think of, reflect on and quote and which, surprisingly, talks about God forgetting.

No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, "Know the Lord," because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,' declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Jeremiah 31:34

Whatever life throws at us we must hold firmly to a Lord who is faithful and true, who will not let go, and a God who chooses to forget our sins and failings when we believe and trust His Son.

Jesus Christ is Lord: Alleluia

Rev. John Ritson (Superintendent Minister, Weald of Kent Methodist Circuit)

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church