The Secrets of Memory

Fr. Jonathan Tobias | 21 November 2018

Give praise, O you heavens, and rejoice, O earth, you mountains,
give praise with jubilation: because the Lord comforts His people,
and will have mercy on His poor ones.

But Zion said: The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.

But could a a woman ever forget her infant,
so as not to have pity on the child of her womb?
“But even if she should forget, I will never forget you,” says the Lord,
“Behold, I have written you in the palm of My hands.”

— Isaiah 49.13-16

Well, here we are.

As this is that moment when we arrive at the “last word”: and today, that word falls on me. I want to share with you, then, some of the main truths that I have tried to underline in these last 14 years with you.

They all have to do with “memory.”

The first truth is the meaning of “memory” — as in your memory and my memory are not at all the same as God’s. Our memory gets mixed up sometimes. It can fade like old Polaroids. It can be stored away in the wrong files. It can get so old that it disappears.

But for God, there is no such thing as past, present and future. All time is in His vast, infinite Present — so there is no fading or disappearance, nothing gets mixed up because it is all arranged in the beautiful truth of Jesus Christ, the Word (and Son) of God — “Who is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

So when we sing “Vicnaja Pamjat” or “Eternal Memory,” we are not asking God to not forget us. That is something God cannot do — that is, forget you or me or anything. We are not asking God to look at photos of us in His billfold and reminisce about old times and wish that we were there.

No. God’s “memory” is what makes us live in the first place. God is the only One Whose thought and action are one and the same. And because God’s memory (that is, His “consciousness”) is eternal, we can live forever.

In short, “Vicnaja Pamjat” can be sung just as meaningfully for you and me, even before our repose.

God’s memory also imprints on all of Creation for all Time His “personality,” or His Name. And we all know the Name of the Holy Trinity, which is Love.

I have preached that fact over and over again.

God created Creation in love. At the end of days, at the universal transfiguration when Jesus returns, nothing will remain that is not love.

All true making is done according to the Wisdom of Love. What is done in love will stand forever — everything else will wither away. This is so simply because God Himself is the only eternal standard of reality.

I have preached this, too, so many times that you should be saying to yourself, “There he goes again.”

But here is something that you may not have heard:

There is always time enough for love.
When you love, when you live in His Name,
you make time.

Yes, that is true. You make think that you only have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But really, when you love, time expands in wisdom for the sake of beauty. When you love, you become the artist that God has always wanted you to be from eternity. The divinity of the Trinity is Wisdom, and you were created personally to shine with that Beauty, and to make beauty of His Name shine all around you.

And that artistry will stand forever, because — as Solzhenitsyn once said — “Beauty will save the world.”

Salvation. I have staked my life on this word.

You and I stake our hearts on the truth that our God is a Saving God. Where we forget, God remembers. Where we often fall short, God stands forever, in the Love that never fails. God rescues. God delivers. God goes to any depth, any extent, crosses every distance, surmounts all barriers, exceeds all space and time to find even a single lost lamb. 

We are all lost lambs, for whom the Shepherd left His 99 angels.

Keep this in mind, and never forget:

What God remembers, He redeems.
Everything is written in the nail-print of His hand.
Nothing is lost. Everything is gained in His Name.

* * * * * * *

Well, here we are.

But if we are in Christ, which is a more important location than in East Pittsburgh, then that changes everything.

So. Here we are. And here — in Christ — we shall remain.

And we shall remember.

I love you all, and always will,
and I will always pray for your Light and Peace in His Name

Since you are here…

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