The preacher, the only one in the room wearing a suit, leaned forward, dramatically closing in on the microphone. His hands grasped each side of the worn, wooden pulpit, a relic which never failed to support his weight in moments like these. A professional, he drew energy from the room’s silence like Superman would the sun’s rays. Attendance had been dwindling, but this morning there were more people than he expected. He took that as a sign. During this pause, he made eye contact with nearly everyone, and as he scanned the room, he found one unfamiliar face, a young man. Unlike most past guests, the young man did not look away.
The preacher, at last, continued.
“To be able to forget,” he concluded. “Sometimes I just want to be able to forget,” he said, repeating his desire, this time without pausing for effect. “You know me well enough to know first-hand that I sin as much as you,” he said gravely. “I know me well enough to argue that I probably sin more,” he said, the corners of his mouth rising as he shook his head. A lone chuckle evidenced that he hadn’t lost his knack for timing.
Unlike recent Sundays, he had something to say this morning. And while he needed to transport the audience to a place where they felt the weight of the world, he also knew they needed slight relief every so often if they were to feel him lift it completely off at the end. Picking up the pace, the preacher proceeded.
“I want to be able to forget big things, sure. Like hate, meanness, selfishness. But that’s not all. I want to be able to forget specific things. I want to be able to forget when I was mean to my best friend. I want to be able to forget when I yelled, ‘I hate you!’ to my parents. I want to be able to forget the time that I didn’t share my ice cream with my son,” he claimed, feeling his heart pound like it always did right before he pulled it out for all to see. “More than that-” he stopped, and re-directed, “I can be honest here, right? Is that okay with you?” he asked. A majority of heads nodded in response, and a practiced, deep “preach it!” could be heard.
“More than that,” the preacher resumed, “I want to be able to forget that in each of those circumstances I wanted to do those things. Those actions were desirable to me. I wanted to be mean; I wanted to hate; I wanted to be selfish. If the Lord was standing here right now, and we all got to ask one question, mine would be, ‘Isn’t it enough that we do these things? Can’t you at least relieve us of our memory of them?'” he paused, nearly choked up. “But the Lord isn’t here right now,” he said, regaining his composure. “He isn’t going to intervene and answer my question. And why not? Is it because he doesn’t care? Is it because he doesn’t exist? No. It’s because he’s done everything necessary already. The onus is on us now. Remember?” he asked.
With a look that betrayed that he didn’t even realize that he had come down from the stage as he spoke, he turned his back on the crowd and walked up the two creaky stairs, returning to the pulpit. This signaled that he was near the end.
“Remember,” he said, the word somewhere between a command, a statement, and a question.
“Certainly everyone here is aware of the current stress put on living a balanced life. Eastern religions have the yin-yang concept. Likewise, when I think of all the things I want to forget, I can’t help but be grateful for one thing that we can’t ever forget–Jesus of Nazareth. He came. He spoke the truth. He gave us hope. But he also convicted us. So we killed him for it. Did it have to happen that way? I don’t know. I just don’t know. But it did. And if we ever forget that, I’m not sure we won’t forget hope altogether.”