It began a couple of years ago. I was good at it for a long while, but slowly, I needed assistance. I couldn’t do it alone any longer. You could say that I didn’t trust myself anymore.
I, I, I started to write notes. I began to write notes to myself to remind myself of things I thought I might forget. Then when I needed to review or tell myself, I could look up one of my notes – a passing thought I worthy of remembering, something I heard from someone else and liked as a sermon theme. (You know you’re getting old when you write a note to remind yourself of something but then forget where you placed the note…or you forgot why you wrote it!) The small piles on my kitchen table rise higher each day.
To help me out tonight is an old standard from the 1958 movie, “Gigi,” “We met at nine, we met at eight, I was on time, no, you were late, Ah, yes, I remember it well. We dined with friends, we dined alone, a tenor sang, a baritone, Ah, yes, I remember it well.”
Today is our glorious time to remember and try hard not to forget. Especially for those special people, we welcome tonight into our community of faith through baptism and confirmation. My advice to you tonight is to try to remember one or two special moments for the rest of your lives. Hold on to them as best you can because these two sacraments are the anchors during any of life’s storms. Those memories will never fail you. (For me the meaning is there now but little of the experience. Baptism was as a baby and Confirmation was eighth grade. I only remember Confirmation’s slap on my cheek.) I hate to disagree with an angel, but I think we should be amazed this night and every time we gather as church. Amazed at the opportunity to touch him through the Eucharist, be reinforced by him while in this place and then bringing him to all the situations we encounter. That is profoundly amazing.
Tonight, we remember who began at Christmas and is completed this holy night and proves and shows us what eternal life looks likes.
Unless, of course, we forget.
“That dazzling April moon, there was none that night…And the month was June, that’s right, that’s right, It warms my heart to know that you remember still the way you do, Ah, yes, I remember it well.”
Perhaps the Original Sin isn’t idolatry but forgetting.
Perhaps the Original Sin isn’t idolatry but forgetting. Idolatry is a churchy word. The human experience that speaks to all of us is the word forgetting. How often we either take for granted or forget the great gift won for us this night. Or better yet, is the meaning of those words really the same? Idolatry is to forget what this night means. It means that “Yeah, I know the church is there, but I’m doing okay right now on my own.” I call those Catholics the fire extinguisher sign, “In case of an emergency, break glass.” The church becomes a crisis center until things settle down. Then there are those who say, “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.” I still don’t know what that means, but I think it boils down to, “I get to sleep in on Sunday mornings.” We forget the commitment it took him to give us new life so that we can receive new life and to then to bring new life to all those around us. If you think about it, I believe it’s too easy for us First World people to forget what this night means and to apply it to our every day lives. Unfortunately, us First World people are given only an illusion, an illusion of a life as gratification. That’s not what he won for us this night.
“That carriage ride, you walked me home, You lost a glove, aha, it was a comb, Ah, yes, I remember it well, That brilliant sky, we had some rain, Those Russian songs from sunny Spain, Ah, yes, I remember it well.”
And he showed us all with our ordinary things of life. And, he made them extraordinary. Oh, all right, there was that dove at his baptism and some heavenly voices from time to time but what will always remain is … I know you didn’t forget the answer to that one: bread and wine. Staples at any gathering. Your wife messages you, “Remember, to buy some wine for the party tonight,” because she knows that you’ll forget. Water to cleanse, he blesses us; a white cloth commissioning us at baptism and letting us go at death; oil on our foreheads for a lifetime of selfless service, a lifelong burning brightly lamp that never hides under a bushel basket and young mustard seeds of gifts and talents that grow into an adult life worthy of God’s creation. I can name more of them, but this service is long enough.
If I dare say, this whole night amounts to one word for us all.
If I dare say, this whole night amounts to one word for us all. It is hope. Hope for a faith-filled life for each of us, hope that our children develop an even deeper faith than we possess because of our witness, hope for all the oldsters to cherish their life’s wisdom and to recall all the advice they’ve given to others for many, many years and now applied to their lives, hope that our world can safely solve solvable problems and that we never ever forget, most importantly, even with aging minds, that none of this is ever achieved by our own self-wills or personal determination.
Our First World culture can only offer gratification. That’s the sad but loud Sinatra song that sings only to himself, “I Did It My Way.” That’s the First World’s response to life. It only leads to isolation and eventual loneliness. “Idolatry, anyone?” That’s what forgetting gets you. The Church can confidently promise you not gratification but fulfillment. We need to sing the song to him by the rock group, “America,” “I need you like the flower needs the rain, You know I need you, guess I’ll start it all again, You know I need you like the winter needs the spring, You know I need you, I need you, I need you.”
It is wholly and only accomplished as a faithful community,
It is wholly and only accomplished as a faithful community, together as the Body of Christ. That’s what he wants us to do as he did for his apostles in that Upper Room. It’s bread and wine – broken and poured out – our “broken and poured out lives” shared and lived together as his body was broken but divinely raised up this holy night. Here’s a goal for us all – both for those soon to belong and for us longtime belongers. Can we be that solider looking up at that Good Friday cross and sincerely and humbly say to ourselves and then to be, through our lives, to each other, “Truly this was the Son of God!”? That becomes and is an unforgettable and amazing faith.
One more musical verse and then I’m done. “How often I’ve thought of that Friday, Monday night, When we had our last rendezvous, And somehow I foolishly wondered if you might, By some chance be thinking of it too?”
Oh, I forgot. I forgot to tell you. I didn’t tell who he is! His name is Jesus Christ. I made a note of it.