Park Avenue Methodist Church, Park Avenue North, Northampton, NN3 2HT :: 01604 720624
Administrator - Alan Brett :: Senior Steward - Hilary MacCallum |


Tina SwireI love playing with words.

Take remember.  We usually understand it to mean recall, as in recall the story, or what you said or what you remember.

But what if it has another, meaning.  What if it means to re- member, as in you are a member of something, a community, a family.  To re member, or be remembered, is to claim once again your place, and identity with that community or family and engage, once again, with that communities narrative and story.

And maybe faith is both about recalling and re-membering.

Jesus witnessed to a people who lived in interesting times.  They lived with illness and poverty, hunger and moral and ethical questions.  And let us not forget that the Romans were occupying their homeland.

In John 7:37-39, Jesus asks them to remember

The festival is Sukkot.  We know this because of the details about festival and water.

What do we know about Sukkot?  In the festival of Sukkot, it was customary to bring a pitcher, made of gold, into the Temple.  It was filled with water from the pool of Siloam to remind the people when God gave them water from the rock when they wandered in the desert.  On each day of the festival, there was a procession, including prayers for deliverance, or Hosanna in Hebrew, and the final day of the festival was hosanna rabbah or the great hosanna, the culmination of all these prayers.


Jesus then is inviting the people to remember.  Recall the hope we have for the messiah.   Recall the hope of deliverance, of liberation, of freedom, of the new life that the messiah comes to bring to all people and indeed creation itself, for this water was for the livestock as well.  Remember that when creation fractures, God sends the Holy Spirit to be about renewal, inspiration and hope.  Accept God’s gracious invitation and be re-membered into such a community and family of grace and mercy and hope.


Remember the dreams and visions of the Holy Spirit who is ever about recall and re-membering, for it shapes and reshapes community.  It’s winds ever witnesses to the grace and wonder of a God who continues to be about miracles of transformation and transcendence.


You remember the story.  It’s the one in Numbers 20.

You recall it?    Of course you do.

There was no water for the community and they united against Moses and Aaron.  The people challenged Moses and said,” It would have been better if we had died when our relatives died in God’s presence!   Why have you brought the community of YHWH into the desert to die here with our livestock?  Why did you lead us out of Egypt, only to bring us to this wretched place that has no grains or figs or vines or pomegranates?  There’s not even any water to drink!”

Moses and Aaron left the assembly and went to the door of the Tent of Meeting, where they feel prostrate.  Then they saw the glory of the YHWH, and YHWH said to Moses,

“Take your staff and assemble the community, you and Aaron, and in their presence, speak to this rock and order it to yield its water.  You will make water flow for them, out of the rock, and provide drink for the community and their cattle.”

Moses took the staff from its place before God, as directed.  He and Aaron assembled the people in front of the rock and Moses said,

“Listen now, you rebels!  Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”  Then, raising his hand, he struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out in abundance, which the community and their livestock drank.”  (Numbers 20: 2-9)


God calls us to live in love one with another and indeed creation itself.  Therefore, God gives us water.  All of us.  And from a rock.  I mean, really.  Everyone knows water does not come from rocks.  But then, we believe that this is a God who rolls away stones.


It was in community that Jesus said, do you not recall? Do you not remember that we are all members of God’s family, and that this family includes creation itself?  These festivals which we celebrate are not mere inclinations, but witness to a deeper truth.    In the face of all which denies it, God offers us all new life.  And God being God, can and does so, even from rocks, life from non -life.

This is one of the reasons why we need the Holy Spirit.  These are the things of God.  The Holy Spirit, by God’s grace, empowers us to dreams God’s dreams and see he very visions of the divine.

The Holy spirit enables us to recall and re- member.  It enables us to be a people of hope in the face of all which denies it.  As Desmond Tutu said,

Hope is being able to see that there is light, despite all the darkness.

Hope is being able to believe that water comes from a rock and stones are rolled away.


In some ways, the issues that the people of Jesus’s day lived with resonate with our own.   We too live with questions about illness, as in what do we do about the NHS.  And hunger.  Why are their food banks in the 21st century?  And poverty?  What is the role of the social safety net?  We too face moral and ethical questions.  How do I shop and vote and want others to live?  And while a Roman legionnaire has not raised a sword in GB for many a year, we still live with violence, whether behind closed doors or in the public arena.

We need hope.

Therefore, Jesus says, in community, and to community, remember.  Remember hope is your goal and your task, your mission.  Remember God is with us.  The Messiah comes.  And we are not alone.

Recall our common narrative as believers and as members of the great human family.  Recall and be re-membered.

Let us recall the story in the words we say and how we live, and daily be re-membered within it.  For the wonder and glory and gift is this.

We are not alone.  God is with us.  In manger, cross and empty tomb, God is with us.  God is with us, creator, redeemer sustainer. God is with us, Source, Truth, Inspiration. God is with us Father Son and Holy Spirit. God is with us the Three in One.



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