Try to Remember
The 2nd Sunday in Lent historically has gone by the Latin name Reminiscere which is the Latin verb for remember' which is the first word in the Introit. Perhaps you remember the song "Try to Remember." It has been recorded from 1960 on by too many singers to mention. In that song remembering is all positive, but is it?
One of the worst experiences connected to losing a loved one is waking the next day to remember all over again that they have died. Lent is a season of repentance where we remember all over again that we are sinners. Try to remember; you have rebuked Jesus. You can see that's what Peter does in the text. Peter took Jesus aside as one would a younger brother, a misguided friend, "and began to rebuke Him." Mark doesn't tell you what the rebuke was, but Matthew does. Peter says, "The suffering, rejecting, killing, and rising You just said must happen to You will never happen to You."
You've done that; you've rebuked Jesus. God says He's joined you for life to this spouse, and you've thought, "Like heck He did." God says, "Thou shalt not be angry with your neighbor," and you've said, "I sure will." God says, "Hear My Words; receive My Sacrament," and you've said, "Not today. I'd rather sleep."
Try to remember not only have you rebuked your Lord, God, and Savior, you've minded the things of men over the things of God. How many times have I heard layman say: "Let's get him involved; and that will get him to come to church." That's minding a man thing over a God thing. It's minding the things of men over the things of God whenever you go by your opinion, feeling, or fear over a Word of God. And it doesn't seem all that bad to do that, does it? In fact, you feel kind of good like Peter must have when He promised Jesus He wouldn't go to the cross. But minding the things of men over that of God is satanic with all its sulphur, flames, and ghoulishness. Are you waking up to remember the horror yet?
Well try to remember not the mellowness of fall or the greenness of grass but the fallenness of failing all 3 requirements for following Jesus. How much clearer could Jesus make this? "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." Only two places is this word for deny used in the New Testament. For Peter's denial of Jesus and for your denial of self. Do you deny yourself like that or do you do all you can to accept, esteem, and love yourself? How about the cross? When you won't take up the cross of a difficult spouse, parent, or neighbor, you think there's anyway you'll take up the cross on which the self is to be crucified?
Try to remember; going by Jesus' clear words you have no more been following Him than that person you know who claims not to follow Jesus. He or she is more honest than you, aren't they? Well don't stay here. That would be like waking up the next day after the death of a loved one and never leaving that moment of recall for the rest of the day. That moment is bitter, horrid, despairing, but it passes. Your sins, however, won't just pass. They need to be carried away. Try to remember: you have a Savior.
Try to remember; Jesus came to be rejected by God, by Church, and by State in your place. The sins you remembered above prove you fail every test of love, loyalty, citizenship or membership in the family of God or Man. You ought to be voted off the island for good. But the perfect Jesus was in your place. All those slaps, barbs, arrows, all that guilt, blush, and shame you felt rising in your soul and maybe in your cheeks, Jesus took as His own and was rejected for it.
Try to remember; Jesus came not to just to do, to love, to be faithful in all the ways you're not, but to die for your failures. He must be killed. He must be crucified. He must suffer. He must bleed. He must cry. He must sigh, and He must die. Skim over this and you skim over the Gospel. Forget this and you can forget about being saved. This is the only coin you have to offer to pay for your eternal debt of sin. This suffering and dying of Jesus is the only sufficient ransom for sin.
Try to remember; perfect, holy Jesus came not just to be rejected as you should be and to die as you deserve but to rise. Be not like the first disciples who somehow checked out after "must be killed." Jesus just as clearly says, "and after 3 days rise again." His mocking, beating, whipping, crowning with thorns, and nailing are the only payment for a world's sins, but the only way you know it was enough, that the debt was paid, that the payment was sufficient is by His resurrection. You forget Easter, and it doesn't matter if you remember Good Friday or not. For if Jesus didn't rise from the dead you are still in your sins, and the death you ought to remember upon waking is your own.
Try to remember - when sin and sinfulness are crawling all over your conscience so that you can't forget, when Death is like a shadow across your soul, when the Devil won't let you forget but wakes you again and again to your sins, to your certain death, and to your just judgment - try to remember: Jesus rose victorious over all those sins you can't forget, victorious over the Death you're trying to forget, and over the Devil who won't let you forget.
Some of you have noticed; I turned things around. I've made Reminiscere about you remembering, but this Sunday is called Remember not because you remember but because God does. The Introit prays, "Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love for they are from of old." You know from the Catechism that when we pray for the Lord to do something that He has promised, we are not reminding Him to do it but reminding ourselves that He will. Isaiah 49:15 teaches us God will remember us. "Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you."
In the song "Try to Remember" some leave out this line from the original lyrics, "Deep in December it's nice to remember without the hurt the heart is hollow." You might have to go back to your teen years to remember things that were bitter and yet sweet at the same time. The condemnation of the Law that I had you trying to remember is not such a thing. The hurt of the Law isn't necessary to fill a hollow heart, but without the hurt of the Law the heart doesn't know it's hollow. It doesn't know it needs a Savior, and in terms of this last section, it doesn't know it needs the Lord's remembering even more than it needs its own.
Lord in both cases in the Introit is Yahweh, Jehovah, Jesus. Try to remember; your Lord Jesus can't forget His great mercy and love for they haven't been just of old but from eternity. That's what Ephesians 1:4 says. "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love." From before there were time and space, God looked at us in love for Jesus' sake. Not just looked at us but chose us. If you can remember the pain of being the last one picked in grade school, you know what didn't happen in eternity. God didn't say, "Okay, I'll take him." No, for Jesus' sake, God the Father joyfully picked you first.
In the King James translation of the opening verse, it's not "great mercies" but "tender mercies." That's more meaningful to me. It brings to mind Psalm 103:14, "He knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust." And Psalm 78:39, "He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return." How much of a burden do you put on dust? How much do you expect from a passing breeze that doesn't return?
Try to remember; God doesn't look at you as the Law, the Devil, the World, or your own fallen conscience says He does. Try to remember; He looks at you through His only beloved Son which brings to mind the 1978 "Rose Colored Glasses" by John Conlee. His "rose colored glasses" hid the bitter truth about his girl. God sees you through glasses colored rose by the blood of Jesus, and as impossible as this is for any sinner to fully believe, those blood-tinted glasses don't hide the truth; they are the truth.
In the song "Try to Remember" the constant invitation is if you remember then follow. Follow what it means if God remembers His tender mercies and love that have been from eternity. Do you think something that happens in time even sin, even death, even Devil can invalidate what God chose to see in love in eternity? Do you think from God's perspective the matter of your eternal salvation is up in the air, a wait and see till you're on your death bed? Is that even how any sinful person deals with someone that is precious to him? You remember to make sure your kid is all ready for sleeping. Do you think the Lord who loves you more than you do your kids forgets to make sure you're all ready for dying?
Try to remember; the Introit isn't just a prayer for God to remember so we are reminded He does; try to remember; there is also a statement here, "The Lord remembers us and will bless us." The Lord doesn't "wake" up each new day to the horror of your sin, how badly you've let Him down, how poor of a Christian you are. No, He "wakes" to the fullness of His love for sinners longing to rebirth them into His family by Baptism. Longing to absolve them into His good graces. Longing to nourish them with the Bread that is His Body and the Wine that is His Blood.
The most memorable line in "Try to Remember" for me is the one that says, "Try to remember whenlove was an ember about to billow." Remember that we who remind each other that God's mercy endures forever don't believe God's love for sinners in Jesus ever dies out. There is always an ember there about to billow into flames of forgiving, sustaining love. Amen.
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
Second Sunday in Lent (20150301); Psalm 25:6; 115: 11-13, 18