On a shelf in the garage sits my Ore Ida French fry box. Inside, I store the tokens of my high school career: trophies, certificates, my graduation mortar board, four yearbooks, a disintegrating album with all manner of now embarrassing photos, plus miscellaneous stuffed animals, pins, and, well, stuff.
The summer after my high school graduation, my family moved out of our townhouse and into a nearby apartment. I brought the Ore Ida French fry box home from the bowling alley where I was working that summer. When I filled it full of my precious tokens, I had every intention of unpacking it “someday” when I would be out of college and living on my own.
Four years passed, and I moved out on my own. The French fry box stayed packed. I got married and moved halfway across the country. The box is still packed. I moved again to Colorado with my husband and children. Still packed.
In a few weeks, I will mark the 30th anniversary of my graduation from high school and, yes, the box remains packed. The contents of the box mean nothing to anyone but me. Nevertheless, I have every intention of keeping it until the day I die. My kids will have to throw it all away, because I won’t. Sorry, kids.
Memory and remembrance are threads holding together our story of God in the scriptures. Read the Old Testament and hear the refrain: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery…” (Exodus 20, 29, 32, 33; Leviticus 19, 22, 23, 25…you get the idea)
“Don’t forget Me and what I did,” says the Lord, “If you do, you’ll forget who you are.”
Then, read the New Testament and listen to Jesus at the table: “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11, the first Sunday of every month…you still get the idea).
Remember me, Jesus says, and be my people.
Memory and remembrance define our relationship with Jesus, who wants to be remember all the time. He wants us to remember who we are—his friends, his children, His people—and live like it.
The tokens of these memories are our scriptures, our worship, our sacraments, and our prayers. These memories aren’t meant to be packed in a French fry box. They’re meant to be practiced. They’re meant to be celebrated. They’re meant to be shared.
Do you remember a time when prayer was answered? Do you remember a time when you felt Jesus presence unmistakably in a song? Do you remember reading a Bible verse and wondering how it could be speaking right into your life? Do you remember the taste of communion bread on a day when you desperately needed to know forgiveness? These are the memories that matter. Write them down on a scrap of paper, stuff them in your Bible, and pull them out on those days when the world—and you—seem to be falling apart.
The Ore Ida French fry box and everything it contains are collecting dust. And someday it will all end up in a landfill. (Sorry again, kids!)
Don’t let the same be said of our faith.