I can’t remember my passwords. I can remember what our phone number was when my family lived 12 miles out in the country and we were on what was called a “party line” – back in the days of landline phones. It was Normandy-nine-2189. I can’t remember the password to my Realm account here at Grace. I can remember the phone number for Baker University when I was a freshman and terribly homesick and there weren’t cell phones so I would use a payphone in the dorm. The Baker number was 785-594-6451. You’re right, I could have looked that up on Google in seconds, but I’m telling you, I didn’t have to. But I can’t remember my password for the Comprehensive Protection Plan I have as a pastor in case I fall off a mountain saving a small child from certain death and my family wants to provide a small going away party for me.
I can remember the year I proudly made an angel food cake for my sister’s birthday (1984). It was a cake that, once baked, you cut in half and filled with a Jell-O pudding & Cool Whip mixture. Then you put the top of the cake back on and iced it. I remember this because while carrying it toward her house across her lawn, I dropped it. Yes, yes, I did. I dropped the whole squishy mess onto the ground. I know my mom and sister wanted to laugh – it had to have been funny – but I can’t remember if they did. I simply remember the on-the-ground broken cake with Jell-O pudding and whipped cream spatter (I watch too many CSI shows) all over the place, including on my slacks. I can remember that like it was yesterday. Probably one of the many traumatic cooking events that has led to my title as queen-of-the-non-cooking-United-Methodists of today. A hard-won title in a denomination known for its potlucks – but I have a strong hold on it, reaffirmed every time I show up with a bag of potato chips, paper plates and plastic ware, and sometimes a covertly brought bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. But I can’t remember my password for Amazon – not the prime, not the fast-pass checkout, not the “we’ve saved your favorites and are suggesting these in addition” – even for BOOKS, I can’t remember my password.
I have wonderfully and very gifted in technology friends – for me, you’re gifted in technology if you can show me how to delete in large quantities rather than one by one – thanks Pastor Sylvia! And these gifted technological friends have told me there are “apps” that you can use to store your passwords and then call them up any time you need to know one. I don’t yet have that app. I have to remember my iTunes password in order to purchase it, from what I understand.
The deal is you can’t just have a password, like say, I don’t know… Buddy. Because evidently it’s too easy for someone to figure that out just because it’s allegedly your dog’s name. So if you’re going to use something that familiar you have to have some capitalized letters, some numbers, some symbols that you have to press the caps button to put in but don’t mistakenly press the caps-lock button because your computer REAAAALLY doesn’t like when you don’t pay attention to that. And it’s supposed to have 8-12 numbers, letters, and symbols but not more and certainly not less. And you’re absolutely not EVER supposed to use 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 or a-b-c-d-e-f-g-h, because even if that makes it so that you can remember it, everyone else in the world will be able to hack you.
Do you remember the year of the big Christmas Eve snowstorm?! 2009! Because your pastor refuses to cancel church services, except for that one time last year when the predicted ice didn’t come – SEEEEE that’s why I never cancel! Do you remember the crowd we had at the 11 o’clock service?! So many other Catholic and Episcopal churches who also have midnight Christmas Eve services cancelled that we got all of those folks. And everyone was in such a great mood and so proud that they came to celebrate Jesus through rain, hail, sleet, and SNOW! And we’d had all of those through the day and evening except hail. Lynn, our organist, spent the night with Brian and Dian because she and Bob lived out in the country on the west side of Olathe. Rick’s Mini-Cooper got stuck at the ramp getting onto K-10 and the Bishops came by and pushed him out. He made it to a parking garage downtown and called a cab which actually came and took him home! That was back in the day when I had an all-wheel drive Subaru – Mel Winters top-choice of transportation for all good Olathe-ites! Other than having a little trouble seeing through the horizontal blizzard with the Kansas winds and snow, I shot home just fine and may have even done a few “dipsy-dos” because NO ONE else with any sanity was out on the roads at 1 AM after a late-night Christmas Eve Candlelight and Communion Service. Those were the days. I can remember my garage door code from back then (it might be what it is now so if I told you I’d have to hermetically seal you in plastic wrap and send you to outer-Slobovia). BUT I can’t remember the password to my wi-fi at home and have to go and look at the little black box behind my nightstand every.single.time.
So I’m trying to decide if “password-memory-loss” is a thing, like if it is a diagnosis that I can go see about and get tested and be provided a prescription. Actually it would be helpful if it was a patch, I seem to do better with those – it sorta feels like I’ve won an award rather than taking medicine. And then when I remove it, it’s like I’ve questioned authority too much and I’m being stripped of my rank. A vivid imagination sometimes helps with the challenges of life.
Maybe I’ve made you smile a little on this rainy day. Maybe some of you relate to my password-memory-loss diagnosis. And because I’m a preacher – I know, right?! – I will remind you *snort* that one of the recurring themes through the course of the scriptures is God remembering God’s people. “I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy” (Gen. 9:15). For us, the rainbow is a sign of God remembering life. “After a long time the king of Egypt died, the Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Exodus 2:23-24). This remembering leads to God calling Moses as the instrument to one of the greatest stories of liberation we have as people of faith. “No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more’” (Jeremiah 31:34). God promises to write this covenant of grace on our hearts that we might know that our sins are “remembered no more”. And the heart of the gospel message, “Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’” (Luke 22:19). I could continue this “isogesis” – not normally a helpful thing to pick a line of scripture out of context and use it for our own purposes – however, in this instance we can know that God’s memory is long, God’s memory is filled with grace, and God’s memory has to do with liberation and forgiveness. Maybe knowing what and for whom God remembers as well as what and for whom God “remembers no more” allows us to go more gently into our own stored thoughts and those thoughts that are not so much stored and realize it is our humanity in which God delights, and seriously, how entertaining must we be?! And one other thing – no part of any of my passwords is Buddy. Mostly.
There is only one song that could go with this blog and only one gospel voice, for me, that can sing it… although Elvis’s rendition is not bad either. Enjoy.