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  • Writer's pictureRick Wadholm Jr

A Spirit-ed Remembering for Advent

How's your memory? And what are you remembering? I’ve been reflecting on the notions of memory as identity formation lately (perhaps a bit too much Paul Ricoeur in my readings).


What we remember and how we remember it is formative for how we see ourselves (and others also). It is the story or stories we choose to tell and to retell. We have forgotten things (intentionally or unintentionally). We have recalled details and pulled them to the foreground or only viewed them distantly as in the background, despite what role they may have played in the initial event we are remembering. And all of these things, the foregrounded and backgrounded, the remembered and forgotten, the details and forms of our remembrances all form our identity. We become what we remember.


I say all of this as I’ve been contemplating the Scriptures and stories associated with this season of Advent. We are preparing ourselves for the coming of the Christ. We recall specific stories selected themselves from among untold numbers of stories not remembered with these drawn to the front. We are held in the darkness of Galilee of the Gentiles longing for light. Fullness of time. Longing yet more. Visions of the prophets echoing through the ages. We encounter the virgin Mary and the annunciating Gabriel. Joseph and his dreams to marry and then to flee. We remember a couple too old for children yet blameless before God. The silencing of Zechariah followed in time by his prophetic song. Elizabeth’s babe leaping in the Spirit at meeting his unborn Lord. And the tunes of humbling and exaltation in the mouth of Mary.


All of these (and more) fill our thoughts in this season because they fill the thoughts of our God in the Spirit-inspired words he has remembered for us to join in his remembering. And they form us. As persons and as a people. They form us by that same Spirit remembering them in the Gospel traditions. And that same Spirit forms us to long, to be blameless, to hear, for dreams and visions, entertaining angels in the obedience of their Lord, songs of praise and prophetic oracles. We find ourselves caught up in this Spirit-ed remembering.


In the midst of our lives of hurt and sorrows, gladness and fullness, work and rest, we find ourselves recalled to this remembering by the Spirit. May we echo the words of our Lord’s en-Spirited mother in the same faithful confession she made: “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” And may it be remembered as the Spirit again comes over us as those highly favored by God.


—Rev. Rick Wadholm Jr., PhD, Canon Theologian of Missio Mosaic and the Anglican Mission, Associate Professor of Old Testament at AGTS


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