Using Memory to Inform Worship
I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all Your work
And muse on Your deeds. (Psalm 77:11-12)
Coming fresh from the Memorial Day weekend and July 4th Holidays, we have been encouraged to remember those that have fought and died defending freedom and liberty in this country. Many of us visited cemeteries during these holidays, attended services, and it’s probable that our Sunday worship had some mention and recognition of veterans and their sacrifice. In all of these situations we were called to remember.
Moving beyond these National Holidays, I realized that our memories should also serve as an impetus for worship. Memory can inform our worship and make it richer in both depth of understanding and in experience. Let’s review a few of the ways that this can happen.
As we see in the text above, the Psalmist (Asaph) makes a deliberate decision to remember the works of the Lord, and His deeds among men. Why? Simply put, Asaph and those with him are discouraged. The Lord seems to have abandoned Israel, and they find themselves in difficult circumstances. Having been disobedient once again, the Lord has allowed (or orchestrated) the situation of the nation of Israel to be a source of discipline. And they were feeling the pain.
Asaph, however, chooses to battle this discouragement with memory. As the chief of Worship Leaders, he makes it a priority to point to the faithfulness of God. How does he do that? By bringing up the stories of God’s deeds and works. He wants to remember the “wonders of old” – that is, the stories of the Joseph, of the Exodus, of Joshua leading them into the Promised Land, or any of a number of narratives that show God’s work on Israel’s behalf.
These stories are part of the communal memory of the nation of Israel. They have told these stories for generations, and each time they are told they bring comfort and reassurance. These memories remind the people of Israel that they are not alone, even in the difficulty of the circumstances in which they find themselves. After all, what could be worse than the captivity in Egypt?
Today, we sometimes have too short of a memory. This Psalm of Asaph is only one example of many in which the biblical writers use memory to jar themselves (and others) out of despair and self pity. We have these memories, too, but we’re often caught in looking for the newest, latest and greatest ideas and programs. We forget, rather than remember.
What might your worship service be like if you made a deliberate effort to remember God’s faithfulness to your congregation? Use the gift of your memories to incorporate these Divine reminders into the consciousness of the people of God in your church, and allow Him to bring comfort and encouragement even in the most difficult of times.
(Original Post on July 9, 2012 at the Worldview Church: http://www.worldviewchurch.org/worshiparts/articles/18111-using-memory-to-inform-worship)