This coming summer, a brand new batch of fresh faces, still flush from walking the stage at high school graduation, will wish their families farewell and spend the night in a hotel near an airport. The next day, they will board a plane full of anxiety and excitement. At their destination will await them people with stern countenance and faces fixed like flint, ready to usher them into twelve weeks of reshaping to become Army war fighters.
These boys and girls, pledged to become men and women of arms will be people born after Muslim extremists flew planes into two buildings in New York City and one in Washington D.C. Their drill instructors, the oldest among them, will have been very young adults. The younger drill sergeants and cadre will have been mere children.
The world is growing older and moving forward.
Today, again, we remember.
In Exodus, when God remembered His people, it wasn’t like He was playing an advance copy of Call of Duty and suddenly realized He needed to check up on Jacob’s descendants and then shook His head wondering what happened and where all these pointy buildings came from. God remembered, and what a weird phrase. It’s important to understand that anytime in scripture when it says “God remembered” it meant not only were the facts and the present situation already on His mind, but now was the time for action.
God remembering meant that He was about to make this people, who had been protected by the largesse of Egypt, thanks in majority to the wisdom of one of the Israelites, free from the slavery. Their slavery, at the hands of the nation they saved, became hard labor and heartless. Their freedom would be bought at the expense of that nation who would, for the better part of a generation, become utterly impoverished. God spared them simply so they could tell the story of what He had done. It stood as a stern warning that to seek harm on the descendants of Israel, a man whose name meant “I wrestle with God and don’t die,” was to flirt with destruction.
God remembering meant that He was going to draw Himself close to them.
It wasn’t just an emotional moment, but it was the flash of lightning before the crash of the thunder of His justice.
What I see happening with my people is on this day we remember pathetically and uselessly. Instead of a flash of inspiration before the thunder of newness of life and purpose, we instead use the memory of what happened seventeen years ago like a warm blanket on a rainy day.
We wrap ourselves in the comforting misery of the terrible things that happened and sit on our front porch and hurl anger and hatred at our neighbors.
On that day, people reached across idealogical differences to comfort.
Today, we sneer across those differences to generate the comfort of superiority.
On that day, we assessed where we were and some committed to living better lives.
Today, we assess where we are and look for the culprit that robbed us of our desired living.
On that day, I heard love expressed from sea to shining sea based off of the principle of the dignity of human life.
Today, I will keep the radio off, knowing all of the hatred I will hear from coast to coast because we have forgotten what life is truly worth.
And in your memory rouse yourself out of your echo chamber. Echo chambers are truly enslaving, because for the comfort of conformity of thought and discussion, we are charged the price of conformity to more than we want to agree. Want to be an evangelical in politics? Better espouse conservatism. Want to be a person of color in politics? Better be a democrat. Want to support police? Better burn your Nike gear. Want to support more responsible policing? Better throw all of the good police in with the bad.
It’s time to remember what we knew that day. We are free to love whoever the heck we want and to love them regardless of what they believe. Heck, dude, love them because they believe something! It’s time to escape our echo chambers and live the free lives of people who have truly lost fellow citizens to hatred.
Find the marginalized people in your world, in the society around you, know that because of what they believe they are excluded from them company of people like you. And they need connection. We all need connection. Why else are there so many exploding social media apps? Why are the biggest game releases all video games that involve playing with other people online? Why are there more dating apps than single people in the world, and why on Earth do we have so many churches whose mission ti is to reach into the community?
Because we need connection and that connection needs to happen with people who are not our ideological kissing cousins.
Rouse yourself with the power of love and let the memories flash.
Then roar with affection and purposeful thunder across your little area of the world today.
And make that memory matter.
Categories: Dear Us,