Remember Me

A song that I have been listening to on a regular basis is Remember Me by Matthew Smith (of Indelible Grace fame).  This song appears on Smith’s solo recond Love Shall Never Die: The Road Sessions Vol. 2.  I could not find the lyrics to this song, but I did find the hymn on which the lyrics (with a few changes) are based.  The hymn is written by Thomas Haweis and STEM Publishing has a biography on him here and his hymn titled Remember Me on the same page.  Here is the hymn:

Remember Me by Thomas Haweis.

O Thou from whom all goodness flows,
I lift my heart to Thee;
In all my sorrows, conflicts, woes,
Dear Lord remember me.

When groaning on my burdened heart
My sins lie heavily,
My pardon speak, new peace impart,
In love ‘Remember me’.

Temptations sore obstruct my way,
To shake my faith in Thee;
O give me strength, Lord, as my day;
For good ‘Remember me’.

Distrest with pain, disease and grief,
This feeble body see;
Grant patience, rest and kind relief,
Hear! and ‘Remember me’.

If on my face for Thy dear Name,
Shame and reproaches be,
All hail, Reproach! and welcome
Shame! If Thou ‘Remember me’.

The hour is near, consigned to death
I own the just decree;
Saviour, with my last parting breath,
I’ll cry, ‘Remember me’.

This is a simple, but profoundly Biblical cry for the Christian.  I used  the theme of remembering in a funeral meditation for a believer who had suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s during her remaining years.  Her memory and ability to cry out in these last days was greatly diminished, but I focused on our gracious Lord who remembers us (Psalm 103, Luke 23:42-43).  In fact, our salvation does not lie so much in the strength of our ability to make this confession, but in the Lord who remembers us, even in our weakness and frailty.

The text of the homily based on the above texts is on the next pages.  I have changed the name of the deceased.

It was just a few weeks ago toward the end of May that I had made an appointment to visit Jane.  Unfortunately she was not up for a visit that day and so I simply dropped by the house that morning to drop off a gift bag and flowerpot from the church.  Little did I know that I would not be able to come back and make that visit at some later time.  So, I’ll just have to make my visit when we are both gathered around the Throne of God, worshipping our Lord who gives us life, both in this life and the one that is to come.  As a pastor, I am grateful for  men and women like Jane, who was a member of Calvary Presbyterian Church for 46 years.  To put that in perspective, I am 30 years old – I have 16 more years to live to equal her membership and service to our church.  I am indeed thankful, but mostly I am thankful to the Lord.
In the midst of sorrow and grief it can be very difficult to think of anything other than the knot in our stomachs, the wound in our heart’s, and the loss that we feel.  But here in this Psalm, David directs our hearts and minds toward the Lord, even in the midst of these times.  I want to briefly draw your attention to two aspects of this Psalm this morning:  Our remembrance of God and God’s remembrance of us.

God has given us the ability to remember as a gift and we are called to use our memories and our remembrances for the glory of God and to benefit of our souls.  That is what David reminds his own soul and reminds us in verse 2, when he says – “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”.  He urges us not to forget, or more to positively to remember and he reminds us of all that God does for us ultimately through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  But, we are sinful and we forget all sorts of things: from the mundane (car keys or someone’s name that we have just met) to the most important things (our relationship with the Lord or how He has loved us through Christ).  We also live in world that has been so deeply affected by sin that we must deal with the effects of that sin in this world.  And so we are intimately acquainted with disease and affliction, trouble and trial, such that our minds and our bodies are not immune to these things.  All of these things can work against our remembrance of God.  Our remembrance is important and it makes a difference in our lives, but there is something greater at work.

The Eternal and Holy God remembers us in his mercy and grace towards us.  God’s remembrance has a far greater ability to alter our lives for eternity.  God knows our sinfulness and He knows the fallen-ness of this world.  That is what David declares in this passage, after recounting the wonderful grace of God as he does not treat us as we deserve, but instead offers us complete forgiveness.  “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Who are we that God remember us:

While Jesus was hanging on the Cross, a conversation took place with the two criminals hanging on either side of him.  Listen in for a moment.
Luke 23:39-43
39One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Through faith in Christ and His work we are able to cry out with another psalmist:
6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.  7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

Let us, in celebration this morning and as we go out from here, remember both Jane’s  life and the accompanying joy, but also the God who has given Jane eternal life in Christ.  And let us ask God to remember us, especially as we mourn the loss of Jane.

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