Remember
54 years ago, on the 25th August 1962 this building was officially opened.  According to reports of the time: “glorious sunny weather, large attendances, inspirational messages in song and from God’s word – these were highlights of a memorable weekend.”  The writer concluded: “we do sincerely trust that the witness of Glengarry [church] to this new and growing area will be the lighthouse and new life-bringer to many in that district.”
In 2012 we as a church celebrated being here for 50 years.  As Karlene and I researched the history of Eastside/Glengarry Baptist, we saw a glimpse into the lives of those who have gone before us.  As we, present and past people of Glengarry, have gathered together this weekend, we have remembered the past – its good times and acknowledged that it has also had some not so glorious moments.
Deuteronomy 32:7 Remember the days of old, consider the years long past; ask your father, and he will inform you; your elders, and they will tell you. 

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana coined the phrase: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Remembering is good. To ignore the past is to ignore how we were made and formed. We need to acknowledge how we came to be who we are and where we are is important for our wellbeing.

In marriage counselling we ask people to remember the reasons that they got together with their spouse; to remember what attracted them to the other; of what drew them to each other.  
We humans have a bad habit of forgetting the good and focusing on the bad at such times. We forget the excitement, the laughter and the love when we get to the stage of the wheels falling off.  

We need to remind ourselves of the good, the goofy, the triumphs and the celebrations rather than the current bitterness.  When we do that act of remembering, our whole demeanour and outlook for the future can change.  

One of the themes in the Bible is also the word “remember”. The word “remember” is used 296 times in the NRSV; 366 times in the New Century Version; 216 in the AV. It is an important theme of the Bible.

Psalm 105:1-8
O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name,  make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered, O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

These exact words are repeated in 1 Chronicles as well. Repetition tells us that God thinks that remembering is important.

Our remembering has to do with our God.  For the same reason as we ask people to recall the spouse of their youth, so we need to do so with the God who created us and sustains us.

"Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath."
- Deuteronomy 8:18

The Israelites were brought out of slavery through the miracles of the Egyptian plagues and the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, and the miracle provision of manna from heaven and water from rocks, yet they still moaned and wanted to return to what they knew from the bad old days of slavery.  Moses had to continually remind them of the works and miracles that God had done for them. He had to remind them that they were led into the Promised Land by the pillar of cloud and fire. He had to remind them that God had allowed his ragtag  band of slaves to wipe out the inhabitants of the land that they went through, not by their own power (because they had none) but by the power of God.

We too need to be constantly reminded of who God is and what he has done otherwise we take him for granted and we slip back into the ways of the world and into despair.

We need to remember who God is and what he has done for us.  This reunion time is time to do that. 
As we reflect back on the history of Glengarry, we can reflect back on God’s provision for each of us in that time.

We remember him for his provision: 

The Israelites were told by Moses Deuteronomy 5:15Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. 

We too need to remember God’s provision for us as a community and us individually.  A powerful example of this in this community is this: We need to remember that it was prayer to God that changed Lithgow St from a gang battlefield. We need to praise God that the site of one of the burned out gang related houses is now our community garden.  Beauty for ashes.  It was prayer that filled the once almost derelict shopping centre with so many businesses that there are now none vacant.

We need to remember God’s work done in this community to grow children into citizens.  Once there were 3 churches in this suburb – the Methodist in Trent St, the Church of Christ on Yarrow St and us, all running programs for children and helping grow disciples. This church had attendances of 200 kids in its programs in the early days of this suburb.  We may never know what lessons those kids have taken into adulthood, and grand-parenthood from those early days of Sunday school. But all glory goes to God, not us.

We thanks God for his provision that this church is still relevant and active in this suburb 54 years later.

We remember God for his life giving rules 
The Israelites were reminded to remember how God instructed them. 
Numbers 15:40 … remember and do all my commandments, and you shall be holy to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God. 
We too need to remember that God’s rules are not to restrict us from enjoying ourselves, but to provide us a full life. Jesus said he came to give us life and life to the full (John 10:10).  I grew up in the free love era of the 70s. God’s rule was no sex outside marriage. We thought it was restricting and irrelevant.  Then came AIDS and resistant strains of  STDs, and then came the tsunami of single motherhood. And we realized that God’s rules were meant for our good, not to restrict but to give us life. God was right, we were wrong.
In Exodus 20:8,11 the Israelites were told by God to  Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy…For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. 
Again we thought that no Sunday trading was restricting and making us have a limited life, but we are now learning that we need rest.  Our anxiety and depression levels, the dissolution of family time with parents working every day of the week, show us that God was providing the Sabbath for our benefit, to give us life. The Sabbath rest was something that we had not remembered as necessary.
We need to remember God’s promises:
God has made hundreds of promises to us if we follow him.
2 Peter 1:4
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

I know personally that God’s promises are not miserly but abundant, that God does not just give enough but he gives overflowingly. He turns loaves and fishes sufficient for a little boys lunch into a banquet for thousands.  That abundance is still available to us here and now.  We need to remember what he has promised us and take hold of it.

And perhaps most importantly we remember him for his saving grace. 
We remember this every time we break bread or drink juice together in communion. 
1 Corinthians 11:24-26 “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” …“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 
We remember that without Christ in us, the world is without hope.  Without Christ in us, we echo the writer of Ecclesiastes who wrote “everything is meaningless; it is a puff of smoke”.
Our appalling suicide rate in NZ across the generations is evidence of the lack of hope in our society.  Yet Christ came to give life and life abundantly.
How do we do this remembering? How do we keep the goodness of God in our fore thoughts?
We can make memorials.  In Old Testament times whenever there was an encounter with God, the first thing people would do is to take a pile of stones and make a cairn out of them, so that every time they passed by that spot, they remembered the power of God and could tell their children and grandchildren.
Karlene and I were recently in Rarotonga attending our son’s wedding.  All along the road on family plots of land were burial mounds. Not in a separate cemetery like here but actually on their family land.  It was a cairn if you like of remembering the family, remembering those who had gone before. Every day as you walked out your gate you passed by your deceased relatives and remembered them.

The nearest we have in New Zealand is our war memorials in every town in this country, when we remember our forebears who died fighting for our freedom.
In NZ we are a mobile society and seldom live for generations on the same plot of land. We need to make a different sort of cairn than the Rarotongans to remember God’s power and direction in our lives.
I have the Bible that I was given when I was baptized. In the back of that I have written the words from God I received in relation to every momentous decision I have made – choosing to marry Karlene, shifting towns and jobs, receiving the call to be a pastor and where I was to go with that call.  All of them are recorded in the back of my Bible. They are the cairns, not made of rocks but of words that remind me.  When things get tough (and rest assured at some time they will) I can go back to those words and remind myself that I heard God.
We also can make memorials in time. In the time of the Israelites they created feast days to celebrate each year the provision of God – feast of unleavened bread, Passover, the festival of the booths or tabernacles and the feast of Purim and so on.
We have retained barely 2 – Christmas and Easter and both have been adulterated into feasts of gluttony and excess rather than the intended purpose of remembering Christ. We need to recapture our remembering of Christ on those days as the paramount purpose for the holiday.
Another way of remembering God in our lives is demonstrated by those who have multiple birthday celebrations a year.  Not only the day of their physical birth, or of being born again, but of sobriety birthdays, when they remember that God saved them from the chains of addiction.  No less a cairn than a pile of rocks.
Remember every day the good ness of God.
Psalm 105:1-8
O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name,  make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered, O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.