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This article is taken from PN Review 13, Volume 6 Number 5, May - June 1980.

Memory and Hope Daniel Jenkins
 
PROFESSOR David Martin has reminded us* that, in the conduct of public worship, a great deal depends on the precise balance of the elements of memory and hope. The point can be put even more strongly. Almost everything depends on it since, once that balance is lost, worship can be misdirected.

What, after all, is meant to happen in public worship? The emphasis obviously varies from one church to another but it is characteristic of most Christian assemblies that the congregation gathers round the open Bible, the recorded testimony to God's old and new covenants with His people Israel. They also regularly break bread and pour out wine in remembrance of Christ. These are the basic repositories of Christian memory but it also finds expression in many other parts of public worship, in baptism, in hymns and prayers and ritual actions, and in the shape and furnishings of the buildings in which worship takes place, buildings which contain or are surrounded by tombs and tablets which commemorate the dead.

The Church is based on memory but it is unfaithful to what it remembers, its anamnesis is false, unless it also hopes. The purpose of its backward look, especially in Word and Sacrament, is to help it look forward in the right direction, a direction which otherwise could only too easily be missed. What it remembers itself forcibly reminds it that one of its greatest dangers is that it should become a whited sepulchre, a repository ...


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