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January 1, 2017

Blog Photo New College Berkeley

January 2017
Sharon Gallagher

Give Praise to the Lord, O my soul; let not all His blessings go from your memory. ~ Psalm 103:2

This January as we anticipate the new year, we also reflect on the past year. Remembering what God has done for us in the past can shape how we face the future. The people of God seem to need constant reminders. Hebrew Scriptures repeatedly called the Israelites to remember God’s faithfulness and commands:

You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:15)

Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. (Deuteronomy 9:7)

The New Testament also encourages us to remember what Jesus promised his followers:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.(John 14:26)

The celebration of the last supper institutes an ongoing, physical, reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross:

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave to them, saying,Thisis my body which is given for you:this do in remembranceof me. (Luke 22:19)

Each fall I teach Writing Your Journey for New College Berkeley. In the class we write stories about our lives. As we write, we discover themes and gain new insights. We recognize what God has done for us and are reminded to trust God on the road ahead.

At times I’ve read passages from Madeleine L’Engle’s book Walking on Water as inspiration for the class participants. It’s a book L’Engle wrote on a ship going through stormy waters. The wildness of the storm reminded her of the creation narrative. The storm, she wrote, “Left her ill at ease and uncomfortable, and so I rested in the great story of the beginning.”

Out of this meditation L’Engle drew peace and insight:

The creation is God’s. It is El who has made us and not we ourselves. . . the creation is God’s and we are a part of it, and being part of creation is for us to be co-creators with El in the continuing joy of new creation. (Luke 22:19)

Writing about our lives is a way of gaining insight and a reminder of God’s faithfulness. As we draw fragments of memory into coherent narratives we begin to see our lives as a journey, instead of a series of random events.

We do this in a community of people who listen and comment. Our classmates may have insights and see patterns that we don’t see. They may also offer encouragement for the road ahead. Hearing how God has worked in the lives of others—through hard times and good times—encourages our walk of faith.

A member of our most recent class wrote:

I’ve had many good classes at the GTU, but this one was definitely the most encouraging to me in terms of my faith. . . . A safe space [was created] for us to all share our different perspectives, and [the instructor] also stressed how we can really listen to one another. This helped cultivate an atmosphere where we could witness to the unique work of God in each person’s life.

Our fall 2016 class is over. But we warmly invite you to enroll in the 2017 Writing Your Journey class, which will begin in September.

 

Sharon Gallagher (M.T.S.) is the editor of Radix magazine and NCB professor of Christianity and the Media. Her books include Finding Faith and Where Faith Meets Culture.

 

Posted on January 1, 2017 at 8:45 PM
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