‘Remember, remember, the Fifth of November.’ And everybody does. Though few remember anything more than sketchy details of why. Without resorting to Google or to the impressive looking set (only 2 missing) of Encyclopaedia Britannica that I haggled a junk shop man down to £5 for last month, I can manage the following as an answer. Guy, or Guido, Fawkes was one of a group of dissenters who planned to cause an explosion under the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening to assassinate the King. I can’t tell you who the king was, nor when it was, though I’d guess at sometime beginning 16 or 17, definitely not later. They were caught in the act and dealt with severely; probably killed. And that’s about it.
I’m not sure how that would score in a GCSE History exam. For more information I’m going to need to make a couple of computer clicks and, thanks to good old Wikipedia I see that it was King James I (or James VI if you’re Scots) and it took place in 1605 so I’m going to award myself a B + for my solo effort for I’m a very generous marker.
I used to know huge amounts about the Gunpowder Plot, for as an 11 or 12 year old I was taken to the Tower of London and saw an exhibition all about it and bought a book on Guy Fawkes from the gift shop which contained lots of pictures of men in funny trousers and hats. Every fact and every figure would have been on the tip of my tongue for months afterwards. But I can’t remember any of them now.
Even if I’d vowed always to remember, remember, I’d still be sitting here forgetting, forgetting. The animated family film Finding Nemo featured a fish called Dory who could only remember things for a few seconds. She was constantly learning and yet never learning. A film that I really enjoyed in spite of its starring Adam Sandler is 50 First Dates, in which a girl has her memory of the previous day wiped clean each time she falls asleep. Thus, whatever was said the day before, whatever arguments were had, or promises made, or experiences gained were completely lost to her. It made for some great comic moments and also for deeply moving scenes of the patience needed by those around her.
Memory is a great gift. We can (hopefully) learn from our mistakes, learn to trust, learn to live. The Bible encourages us to remember God’s faithfulness. To remember and to allow the remembering of it to direct our future. God, the same yesterday, today and forever. Unchanging in our ever-changing world. A God whom, as we’re reminded in 1 Chronicles 16:15 ‘remembers His covenant forever.’ You are never out of God’s mind. If you have accepted the gift of eternal life that Jesus secured for you then remember that He will not forget. May it not fade like so many facts and figures and conjugated verbs from yesteryear, but live with you as a source of comfort, security and joy.
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