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A Letter from the General Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

Face Forward
December 12, 2013

St. Paul gives us a marvelous example of what it means to be an Advent person when he describes his personal posture as one of always “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13) All that he is and all that he does is focused on the single goal of preparing to meet Jesus. Advent people are always on the lookout for Jesus – eagerly awaiting his coming in fullness, even as they look for him in the faces of folk they meet every day.

Our ability to face forward, Paul realizes, depends on our “forgetting” what lies behind. I call it “holy amnesia.” If God can “forget” our sins – “their sins I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34) – perhaps we can forget those things we need to forget as well.

Of course, some things ought never be forgotten. We would have no Psalm book if it weren’t for the psalmists’ recollections of God’s marvelous creation and mighty saving works. Hearing God’s Word always involves both remembering what God has done and meeting God anew. The Eucharist is first of all a thanksgiving for God’s saving work in Jesus Christ, even as it presents us opportunity to receive those saving gifts anew.

But there are some things that, when remembered, only hinder us from moving forward. What do we need to forget if we are to be fully engaged in embracing God’s future? Where do we need to embrace “holy amnesia” this Advent season?

Each of us will have a personal list of things we need to forget. But let me suggest a few that apply to us collectively:

Pressing forward to what lies ahead,

The Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, General Minister

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