Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 25 April 2021 (ANZAC Day)
“Lest we forget”
That phrase will be on the lips of Australians and New Zealanders all over the world today. In state capital cities, towns large and small, in High Commissions and embassies, at Gallipoli. It comes from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “Recessional” (1897). In turn, Kipling’s poem was inspired by Deuteronomy 4, “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Or as the AV of Kipling’s era has it, “lest you forget”.
We do forget. Not only why we have come into the kitchen (“Now what am I doing here? I must have come into the kitchen for a reason”), but more consequential things. The psalmist is acutely aware that we forget what God has done for us. Ps 103: “Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” The rituals and feasts of ancient Israel were instituted so that God’s saving acts in history would not be forgotten by later generations. Our own Holy Communion, a new covenant echo of Israel’s passover, is so that “every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we show the Lord’s death until he come”.
And the bible is clear that God doesn’t forget his people, old or new. Isaiah 49, a favourite of mine: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” You know how some people scribble passwords or phone numbers on their hands or arms, so that they don’t forget them? That’s what God has done, in Christ, to show that we’re not forgotten. There are times when it seems that we have been forgotten, but …
Standing somewhere in the shadows, you’ll find Jesus
He’s the One who always cares and understands
Standing somewhere in the shadows, you will find him
And you’ll know him by the nail prints in his hands.