Steve Turner wrote a poem. Short and profound, it goes: “History repeats itself, has to, no one listens.” Which really highlights the point of remembering – we don’t remember for the sake of the past, we remember for the sake of the present and the future. It is by remembering the past that we can avoid re-making the mistakes that are better left in the past. The past may be where we were made – our foundations and our frailties, but the past is gone and tomorrow is the future.
One of Isaiah’s prophecies adjures us to Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past, behold, I am doing a new thing. (Is 43:18f). He doesn’t mean we should forget everything, but he does mean that we should let the past stay in the past and embrace the future God is leading us to. Without God and without the salvation found in Jesus, we are left with human work, human wisdom, and human wishful thinking – the past repeating again and again. We need something better. And we have something better! God’s ‘new thing’ is about daring to forgive the past, daring to make tomorrow, not the day that never comes, but the Day of the Lord – a Day worth remembering.