Anamnesis

In the most recent edition of the Virginia Seminary Journal there is a wonderful article remembering the Rev. Dr. Charles Price on the 10th anniversary of his death. In it, the author, a former student, recounted Price’s early work around the concept of Anamnesis. Anamnesis is a fancy church word that is transliterated from its original Greek. It is often translated as “to remember” or “to reminisce” but more literally it means “the loss of forgetfulness.”

Kind of beautiful if you ask me, the act of forgetting to forget. In the Church we call the instruction from Jesus to “do this in remembrance of me” during the Eucharist the moment of Anamnesis, but in reality we have these moments all the time. Every morning when I wake up I have an Anamnesis moment as I lose my forgetfulness of God and remember that he is in control.

The people of Israel had these moments over and over again. The most important thing; that which God could not stress enough as they prepared to enter the promise land was to REMEMBER. Don’t forget, because if you forget, you die.

But they forgot. And then they remembered. And then they forgot again. And then they remembered again. It was a long cycle, a portion of which we hear in the OT lesson for Sunday. The people ruled by Artaxerxes of the Persian Empire were living in a destroyed Jerusalem. The glory of their God was dim, and they forgot. It was easy to forget. But Nehemiah brought Anamnesis. He helped them rebuild their city. In our lesson for today, he helped them hear the Law and its interpretation so that they might remember whose they were.

Remembering is an important work. There is perhaps no more devious work of the devil than to make us forget, again, that we are beloved children of God. This day, I pray that you remember his love for you, remember his call for you, and remember his joy in you. Amen.

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