It’s 22 July today. 22/7. For some reason, that’s significant.
It’s not alone, either. I have a bunch of dates that are familiar for reasons memorable and meteoric. Birthdays, anniversaries, the birthdays of our children, company launch dates, the last time my footy team won a premiership (ok, I don’t have a date for that last one).
There are also dates that stick for sadness. They approach ominously with impending doom or sometimes catch off guard. The death of a loved one, the death of a relationship, perhaps the reminder of failure of some sort.
These dates are trickier to traverse. They’re more visceral. They were gut-wrenching at the time and while people may throw around phrases like ‘time heals’ flippantly enough, the truth is usually that time may cause memories to dim a little rather than heal the soul.
A soul can be healed. The broken can be mended. And while this may be slow work, it’s giving time far too much cred to consider that ‘time’ is/was the healer.
The gaping wound of loss cannot be filled with time, yet can be filled with hope.
How we frame our annual markers of joy and sorrow – however benign or malignant they may be – is usually a reflection of the healing that has taken place. Sometimes it is a brutal reminder of the heart-work we’ve never been prepared to undertake. Too much to confront, it wreak its slow death in us. Other times, it’s a resignation to the past rather than a healing that equips us for the future. In more gracious times, we can testify that a new thing has been birthed from the ashes.
There is a remembrance that comes every year. I remember it with a group of people most weeks. It’s the memory of a death, but the occasion is never macabre nor downcast. More times than not, we raise a toast with our glasses rather than remaining somber.
The cross – Jesus’ death on our behalf as a sacrifice for our sin – opens eternal hope for those receiving His graceful and gracious invitation.
The bread/crackers/croissant we eat remember his sacrifice on the cross, but the cup that is toasted remembers something equally powerful: his resurrection, and our adoption as co-heirs into his blood-covenant family.
We have this hope as an anchor for our souls – a regularly remembered moment, and an enacted hope. ‘Through every high and stormy gale,’ the hymnists writes, ‘our anchor holds within the veil’.
The strength of that anchor can only be found in Jesus for it is only Jesus that has the power and authority to invite us into a story that transcends our disappointments, failures, successes, and celebrations.
Our common union over the simplest feast of bread and wine is a fresh reminder of the new covenant that is ours in Jesus. A covenant, a story that will not end.
Oh yeah, 22 July? Hardly memorable. It is when I got first my drivers’ license. Frequently renewed, hardly memorable.