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Matt Genos: Remembering not to forget

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Deuteronomy.

I know…I know…this is an unusual way to start a piece of writing but give me a chance to explain.  Don’t run away yet.

The book is a collection of sermons given by an amazing leader at the end of his life.  At a time when Moses should be preparing for his death, taking “me” time, brooding about missing out on the land and retiring from the game, he delivers a simple but powerful reminder to the next generation of Israel…”Remember!” This simple phrase (or its sister “Do Not Forget”) permeates the entire book and serves as a bridge between Egypt and the future.

Moses’ recounts, several times, the Story. He highlights Yahweh’s love, mercy and faithfulness even in the midst of utter faithlessness. The people who are about to enter the Promise Land stand at attention listening to the recap of the amazing way Yahweh, hearing their cry, rescued Israel from slavery.  Moses takes great care to go over every detail of Yahweh’s provision of food in the face of hunger, light in the midst of darkness, and life place of death.

But this begs the question…why?  Why is Moses so particular about remembering?  You can almost hear the children nodding their heads saying, “All right already…we get it…we know the story already”.  Why is remembering so foundational to the continuation of Yahweh’s Story?

Remembering is foundational because it connects us with the past and prepares us for the future.

In connecting us with the past, remembering offers hope even in the darkest of circumstances.  Purpose is defined.  Reality is described.  Promises are given.  Disconnected from the past, future becomes loose and devoid of meaning.  By remembering who Yahweh is and what Yahweh has done, Israel is given a reason…a hope…for existence…an existence that finds its ultimate conclusion in the person of Jesus Christ. And it is this existence that prepares Israel and the church for the next phase.

Moses was telling the next generation that their relationship with Him is not static or stagnant.  It is dynamic.  Israel is being put on notice that Yahweh is a God of “new things”. The people of God are being warned against the desire to settle down…the desire to stop moving…to stop changing.  Yahweh knows that this desire is strong and it leads to an inward focus, which produces a slow death that misses out on the life intended.

It is here where I find the impetus and foundation for Fresh Expressions.  It is not a new thing completely detached from the past, dependent on a single leader or easily reproducible.  Fresh Expressions, at its core, is a continuation of God’s Story firmly rooted in the past in order to trust God, though His Spirit, to create something new.  It is a refusal to settle for what already exists because it is safe and easy.  It is the belief that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is still working today through His Church.  It is the hope that in this mess there is something utterly amazing.

Like Israel on the cusp of entering the land, the road ahead for your Fresh Expression holds promise and hope.  It also holds moments of sadness, struggle, pain and loneliness.  But as Jesus promises, “I am with you always.”

Let us remember not to forget.

He said to them, ‘Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully al the words of this law. They are not just words for you—they are your life. Deut. 32:46-47

Matt Genos is pastor of Rosemont Alliance Church in Rosemont, Maryland.


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