5-28-17 The Importance of Remembering

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Sermon Notes:

The Importance of Remembering

memorial:  1:  serving to preserve remembrance :  commemorative    2:  of or relating to memory

HOW IMPORTANT IS ‘REMEMBERING’ ?   MORE IMPORTANT AS GROW OLDER?

TO OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE?  JOY, PEACE?

A CERTAIN KIND OF ‘REMEMBERING – MEMORY OF THE SPIRIT, HEART

Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. 10″Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God…

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  …and when you eat and are full,  then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the house of slavery.

THE BIBLE DESCRIBES ONE MAIN EFFECTS OF FALLENNESS – FORGETFUL HEART – LOSS OF ABILITY OF HEART TO RETAIN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD = MEMORY OF GOD

EVER HAD SOMEBODY ASK – ‘REMEMBER WHEN’ – NO RECOLLECTION – SLEPT SINCE THEN

THIS IS DIFFERENT KIND MEMORY – LOSS OF HEART RETENTION

We are anxious and fearful to the extent that we are enslaved to our often, uncontrollable environment. And we are enslaved to our surroundings to the extent that we are not in communion with God Who is both absolutely beyond and ineffably present in our environment. Just as physical life is impossible if the lungs cannot breathe in oxygen and if the heart cannot circulate that oxygen throughout the body, so spiritual life is not possible without the nous breathing and circulating the oxygen of prayer in an analogous way. And just as medical science has uncovered the symptoms of lung disease and heart disease that reveal an underlying dangerous condition, so the fathers have discovered the symptoms of the spiritual disease of the noetic faculty.

The Bible speaks of the human condition of a now normally non-functioning or sub-functioning memory in the heart. When the noetic faculty is not functioning properly, man is enslaved to fear and anxiety.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  Luke 24:45

MIND = NOUS – GET A HEART UNDERSTANDING – “HEARTS BURN WITHIN US”

OUR FATHER KNOWS THIS – WE ALL HAVE A SPIRITUAL LEARNING DISABILITY, DON’T GET IT

Psalm 103 1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

WORKS PATIENTLY WITH US SLOW LEARNERS – TO RETAIN HEART MEMORIES

Joshua 4 When all the nation passed over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2“Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” …that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD.  So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

 

THERE WAS A GENERATION FORGOT:  Judges 2:10-13 (NKJV)  10  When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.
11  Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals;
12  and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods

Memorial Stone  R. Glover:  The first religious act they did was this memorial act; and the first bit of Canaan which they took possession of was hallowed as a memorial site. Is there anything analogous to this which we ought to do? And would there be any advantage in our doing it? Let us see what this action would suggest as our proper course.

WE SHOULD ALL TAKE SPECIAL MEASURES TO REMEMBER OUR MERCIES. For our own sakes SOULS memorial stones are OF GREAT VALUE! Our power of recollection is slight, and innumerable things make their claims upon it. Our misfortunes ask loudly to be remembered. The slights we receive, the injuries we endure, the disappointments we meet with are clamorous in their appeals to memory. While mercies of God, kindness of man, tranquil delights and satisfactions ask to be remembered with only a small still voice which is apt to be drowned in the vulgar din of the other turbulent recollections, there are some memories, as John Foster phrased it, only rows of hooks to hang grudges on. And when memory so weakly yields to clamour, or so morbidly prefers the poorer subjects of remembrance, every recollection is a depressing burden.

We owe it to ourselves to remember all God’s benefits, for the recollection of them is green pastures and still waters when we are weak. It is inspiration when we are depressed. It gives the joyous sense of being loved. It purifies the soul by gratitude. It binds us by the sweetest of all bonds to God’s service. It brightens the future by the radiance which is at once most trustworthy and most sweet. It sends us on our way “thanking God and taking courage.” And a wholesome, gracious memory being of such value, we should take pains to cherish it. We should deal with it as with a garden, not permitting anything to grow in it which intrudes itself; but we should constantly keep down the weeds, and plant, tend, and cherish the flowers of fragrance and of beauty. Keep your heart with all diligence, and especially this bit of it. And to this end special actions, stones of memory, vows of service, gifts, meditations should all be employed.

 

Anxiety and fear seem to be everywhere we look, everywhere except on the faces of the Saints.

WHO REMEMBER

Sacred Icons of the Martyrs even during their martyrdom have not a trace of fear or anxiety. Why is fear and anxiety so present in our world and so absent in a world of genuine and proven holiness? Father John Romanides provides an answer from the position of Orthodox anthropology: “While the brain is the center of human adaptation to the environment, the noetic faculty in the heart is the primary organ for communion with God. The fall of man or the state of inherited sin is: a) the failure of the noetic faculty to function properly, or to function at all; b) its confusion with the functions of the brain and the body in general; and c) its resulting enslavement to the environment.” We are anxious and fearful to the extent that we are enslaved to our often, uncontrollable environment. And we are enslaved to our surroundings to the extent that we are not in communion with God Who is both absolutely beyond and ineffably present in our environment. Just as physical life is impossible if the lungs cannot breathe in oxygen and if the heart cannot circulate that oxygen throughout the body, so spiritual life is not possible without the nous breathing and circulating the oxygen of prayer in an analogous way. And just as medical science has uncovered the symptoms of lung disease and heart disease that reveal an underlying dangerous condition, so the fathers have discovered the symptoms of the spiritual disease of the noetic faculty. Again, Father John Romanides writes, “The patristic tradition is aware of the existence in human beings of a now normally non-functioning or sub-functioning memory in the heart, which when put into action via noetic prayer, includes unceasing memory of God and, therefore, the normalization of all other relations. When the noetic faculty is not functioning properly, man is enslaved to fear and anxiety and his relations to others are essentially utilitarian. Thus, the root cause of all abnormal relations between God and man and among men is that fallen man, i.e., man with a malfunctioning noetic faculty, uses God, his fellow man, and nature for his own understanding of security and happiness.”  According to the fathers, fear and anxiety demonstrate that a human being is not in continuous contact with God. When the nous functions properly, the spiritual heart cries, “Abba, Father” with the same regularity with which the physical heart beats and the lungs breathe, for the soul needs the Lord Jesus to touch her just as often as the heart and lungs need oxygen. It is not possible to fear and be anxious as long as one is in the perfectly safe and secure presence of the most merciful, humble, and compassionate Christ. But it is also not possible to remain in that presence, unless the noetic faculty functions properly through unceasing prayer. Outside of that blessed presence, people seek security elsewhere with the desperation of those suffocating in a smoky room, looking for just a window to bring in some fresh air. In need of security, people then use others, including God Himself, in a selfish, egocentric way. And being egocentric, viewing everything exclusively from the perspective of me means that my imagination begins to swell and to work to find security and happiness in all the wrong places. And so, “ Man outside of glorification imagines the existence of god or gods which are psychological projections of his need for security and happiness.”  Fearful anxiety comes from musing on dangers in the past and projecting them into the future. It takes us out of the present moment.  But it is the present moment in which the heart must beat, the lungs must breathe, and the nous must function through the constant and abiding remembrance of God. In a 1937 sermon offered to his flock in Shanghai, Saint John Maximovitch reminds his children that, “nothing is fearful to him who relies on God.”  And this reliance comes only through prayer without ceasing.

Patristic anthropology describes the human condition quite eloquently. It also provides real hope. Fr. John later writes, “That all men have this noetic faculty in the heart also means that all are in direct relation to God at various levels, depending on how much the individual personality resists enslavement to his physical and social surroundings and allows himself to be directed by God. Every individual is sustained by the uncreated glory of God and is the dwelling place of this uncreated creative and sustaining light, which is called the rule, power, grace, etc. of God. Human reaction to this direct relation or communion with God can range from the hardening of the heart, i.e., the snuffing out of the spark of grace, to the experience of glorification attained to by the prophets, apostles, and saints. This means that all men are equal in possession of the noetic faculty, but not in quality or degree of function. It is important to note the clear distinction between spirituality, which is rooted primarily in the heart’s noetic faculty, and intellectuality, which is rooted in the brain.”

 

We all have a spiritual heart that we can strive to discover through simple repentance and by calling upon the name of our Lord. It will take time for our fears, anxieties, and imaginings to weaken. Remembering God, remaining in the present, vigilantly guarding the heart against the “terrors of the night” by trust in God will help.  Love, we are reminded in Scripture, casts out all fear. Love that is not selfish, but given wholly over to God, does not have the mental space to give itself over to fear.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, “So too, in our own lives, Jesus is not to be found in death (fear).  “He is not here.”  He has overcome death and cast out all fear, trampling down death by death.  Whatever we fear, whomever we fear has been conquered by the glory of the Cross and Resurrection.  If we have fear ever dwelling in our hearts, we are harming our physical, mental, and spiritual health. Neuroscience, psychiatry, and the Gospel agree on this point. Such fear is certainly not of God. Such fear keeps us chained to illusory and deceptive thoughts that alienate us from God and one another.  Yet, that chain has been broken, Satan has been conquered, fear has been overcome.  We need only recognize this and be glad in Him who has made us a new creation. Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me. Glory to Thee, O God, glory to Thee! Amen.

 

Luke 15:11-18 (NKJV)
11  Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.
12  And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.
13  And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.
14  But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.
15  Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16  And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
17  But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18  I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,

Revelation 2:4-5 (NKJV) Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent.

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