There has been wonderful rain sweeping across our paddocks this afternoon, with an expectation – and a confident forecast – of a goodly amount to come over the next few days. If the expectation is realised, there will be a collective sigh of relief as rain tanks fill, and paddocks begin (it’s only a beginning) to recover.
Then, while stock prices rise as quickly as our spirits, people will begin to forget. Politicians and media prognosticators will turn their attention to newer news, and the travails of the last five months – bushfires which have ravaged our country from the Richmond Valley to Eden and the Blue Mountains, through East Gippsland, Kangaroo Island, the Adelaide Hills and the Stirling Ranges – will be moved down the page.
If the fires are extinguished today, and they will not be, there are lives and properties to restore, there are all manners of recovery to consider. There is grief. People are grappling with chaos, which will not cease when the fires do. And the drought has not relinquished its taloned grasp.
Our discipleship has the responsibility of remembering.
When we break bread and lift the cup, we remember. When disciples doubt their faith, or their hope, or Jesus, they are told to remember what they heard, what they saw, what brought them to faith in that first moment of mercy and obedience.
The Old Testament prophets reminded the community leaders of people they too easily forgot. They advocated for the poor, and the lost, and those deemed unworthy of a name, a place, or a future. They also reminded God’s people who we are called to be; to remember the widowed and the orphan, to remember the stranger.
People regularly ask me what the Church’s role is around the bushfires, and the drought. I speak of chaplains in evacuation centres, of church members in fire crews, of congregations offering food and shelter and a shoulder when it’s needed. But when the flames have lessened, when our vision isn’t shrouded by smoke, we have more to offer.
As our communities begin to begin in their recovery, we have to help remember.
So we remind each other – and the world around us – about those who aren’t able to return to their homes, or towns, or jobs, and ask what justice, or hope we might offer. We will advocate to leaders, and Centrelink, and even insurance companies, for those whose voices are hoarse from asking, or weeping.
We remember why we are disciples, and articulate our hope in Christ, through our worship and our witness and our service. We share hospitality, remembering community. Do you remember why you moved here, why you love this community?
More than that, we remember forward, to what God will do. The One who died and was raised to life will bring life to this place, healing to these lives. Our hope rests in what God has achieved through Jesus Christ; which is where we always begin.
We remember forward to a world restored.