This year has seen the death of giants. Earlier this year, Rev. Bob Williams passed away. Just this last week, South Africa lost Nelson Mandela, and the Iowa Annual Conference lost Bob Crandall.
I did not know any of these men well, but I have met people they touched. I have been in rooms made uncomfortable by the questions they raised. I have met people they inspired and encouraged. I have started to hear stories of the ways in which their witness to social justice changed the lives of the people and the nations around them. And now, they are gone.
When people die, it is our custom to spend time remembering them. We read narratives of their lives. We share memories of our time with them. We describe their corporate and their personal meaning to the community. We claim them as part of our family and name them so future generations won’t forget them.
Talking about the radical nature of the Psalms, Walter Brueggemann describes them as powerful tools for remembering. Over the coming weeks, I invite you to remember those giants of Biblical justice we have lost, whether that be a public figure like Nelson Mandela or a close and intimate friend like Bob Crandall or Bob Williams. I invite you to search the Psalms for their story, and then I invite you to send me those remembrances. You can email or mail me a story and a Psalm. You can put together a quick video remembrance or even a simple audio recording. If you are an artist, I encourage you to send me poetry, dance, drama, or music which somehow connect you to that member of the family of Christ.
Because we don’t want to fall into nostalgia. We don’t want to retreat into the convenience of amnesia. Instead, we want to keep alive the examples of hope, faith and love that they provided for us and share those stories to raise up our next generation of giants.