Over ten years ago I had the unfortunate opportunity to experience what I can only imagine is the toughest thing to deal with as a youth worker – one of the youth in my group was tragically killed when she was struck by a car while riding her bike in her neighborhood. After a month or so had passed the neighborhood where this young lady lived asked the family for permission to place a memorial garden in the neighborhood where the accident had occurred. I listened that day as my pastor once again did an amazing job in honoring the life of this 13 year old girl. But one comment that the pastor made impacted me profoundly and has stuck with me for all these years.
“None of us will ever forget Molly, but I fear that we may fail to remember.”
He went on to talk about the landmark events in history are never forgotten. For Millennials, they will never forget where they were on 9/11 when the World Trade Center towers collapsed. For my generation, we can’t forget where we were the day the space shuttle Challenger exploded in the sky shortly after liftoff. For my parents’ generation, they will never forget where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated. If you were alive when any of those events occurred, there is no chance that you will ever forget them happening because they have left an indelible impression in your heart and mind. However, unless there is an image or a song or a comment that brings it to the forefront of your mind you may not think about those occurrences on a day to day basis. We fail to remember.
We, who celebrate Lent, find ourselves entrenched in the midst of this season leading up to Easter that is set aside for us to consider the life and sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. We observe a season of fasting (or “giving something up”), of repentance, or of spiritual discipline as a means to remind ourselves of the sacrifice, life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. As Christ-followers, there’s no way that we can ever forget what Christ endured on that cross, or the fact that he was dead and buried on a Friday, and was alive, well, and resurrected on Sunday. However, much like those historical markers mentioned above, unless there is an image or a song or a comment that brings it to the forefront of our minds we too often fail to remember Christ’s sacrifice.
In my mind that is the beauty of Lent. When we give up regular aspects of our routines (whether it is giving up chocolate or soft drinks or social media) and then have the natural longings and desires for the thing we committed to give up it serves as a reminder of Christ. That reminder becomes a trigger for us to consider the difference that Christ has made in our lives. When that happens, not only do we not forget, but we remember it. The day that we honored Molly with the memorial garden in her neighborhood we gave everyone in attendance small ribbons with her name on it. I still have mine. Occasionally, I see that small ribbon on my dresser and I smile thinking about Molly and remembering the great memories I have of her. When we give up something for Lent, regardless of what it is, we get the chance to smile remembering Christ and his sacrifice and his gift of grace. As far as I’m concerned, that should not just be a 40 day experience; it should be a year round, daily occurrence. Lord, help us to never forget and help us not to fail to remember!
Photo courtesy of @RabbitEarJones
Chris Lynch serves in the Connectional Ministries office of South Carolina Annual Conference as both the conference staff person for youth ministry and a Congregational Specialist in the Spartanburg and Rock Hill Districts. After serving in one local congregation for 16 years as youth director, he has a unique perspective of the impact youth ministry can have in the lives of youth, adults, churches, and communities. Chris is married to Michelle, his wife of 17 years and is “dad” to three daughters Lindy (14), Cami (10), and Ruthie (7). In his free time he loves to play golf, watch sports, and cook in barbecue competitions. He tweets as @chrislynchsc and you can find his blog ramblings on at youthguychris.wordpress.com.