By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston
“Make sure you don’t forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God…” Deuteronomy 8:11-14 (MSG)
The late Maya Angelou said, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
It goes further to say that we should never back away from any intimidating challenge. To confront our challenges is to understand them and to be empowered to interact. In fact, we will be liberated from the fear. Too often, our fears drive many of us to make choices that are at odds with healthy relationships, vitality and balance.
Moses was afraid the Israelites would forget. Moses was afraid that they would forget all that God had done for them during their Exodus experience, and begin to think that everything they had came by their own power, their own might and their own strength. Moses was afraid that these sojourners of the faith would forget all God had done for them.
Often, the phrase is used, “out of sight, out of mind.” Truthfully, it makes sense, because we have a tendency to forget. It is so easy to forget that all we have is a gift from God. It is so easy to forget that everything we eat, or the homes where we live, or the successes of our lives are extensions of God’s grace.
But we receive so much more than food or possessions—everything we have is a gift from God.
Jennie Evelyn Hussey penned a hymn with this refrain—“Lest I forget Gethsemane; Lest I forget Thine agony; Lest I forget Thy love for me; Lead me to Calvary.” This is a tremendous call to remember.
During the month of November, we have opportunities to remember—lest we forget.
During this month of November, the church celebrates All Saints Day, a time when we rejoice in the hope we have as Christians that those who die in the faith still live in Christ.
Lest we forget.
We can also look to those saints all around us, in our communities. Many may be homebound, in a hospital or in a care facility, but that doesn’t mean they are any less with us in the faith of Christ. These “living saints” among us have seen life, lived through those very things many of us are now going through, and have come out on the other end sustained by faith.
Lest we forget.
Thanksgiving is coming, and we celebrate! It is a time when we are supposed to give thanks for our blessings. A lot of times, we think of the concrete things, our material possessions. We give thanks for food, our clothes, our homes. Yet, we must give thanks for our sufferings as well. We have lived in the midst of a global pandemic, civil unrest and political divisiveness that has wreaked havoc on our lives.
In giving thanks, we remember to rely upon Christ for everything.
Lest we forget.
We also will enter the season of Advent this month. The season of Advent is unique. It is a season of preparation; a season of waiting. Advent reminds us that we are called to be fully present and alert—and not fearful.
This is hard and painful work because of the distractions and temptations that surround us. Yet, we are called to recognize the signs of Jesus breaking into our lives.
Let’s make sure we don’t forget God, our God.