Despite all the options for electronic organizers available to us today, the Nazarene Day-By-Day pocket calendar is still in circulation. I have kept all of mine for the past 31 years.
My most recent copies do not look worn because they were not in my hands as frequently as those I used constantly before I entered the digital world. Still, I record significant events—memories of importance that I want to keep in historical perspective.
Several of those events look very personal, but somehow they are all related to my ministry in the Church of the Nazarene. Some people value history more than others do, but don't we all need it? At times, we are forced into recalling the past. Think of when one must bear witness before legal authorities.
At other times, historical research can become a pleasant task, such as when we want to delve into our family roots. Well, we Nazarenes value our past, and we maximize each momentous point at which we see opportunity to build on our history. Among these special moments are our district, zonal, regional, and global assemblies, conferences, and conventions. As I ponder these events, I find myself enjoying the great value of our common memory.
For various reasons we may be surprised by how many details about our denominational gatherings we are able to recall. We can compare our own memories with those of others as we reminisce about specific events in which we were involved, or evaluate areas of historical impact in which we share common interest.
In psychology and business this is called "transactive memory" or "group memory." It can be demonstrated that collective memory provides an organization with more and better understanding of facts than any single person could give. Nazarene Archives personnel at the Global Ministry Center gather such memories for our denomination. Diaries, minutes, chronicles, and other narratives make up for our propensity to forget. These help us follow the deeds of others and lead us to act in commitment to, or in celebration of, values that convey who we are. Also, they are excellent accountability tools.
God created us to be righteously active.
Knowing that we are not always able to remember what we need to be and do, he sent the Holy Spirit to remind us of what makes us the kind of followers he knows we can be through the Spirit. The resource he promised us in John 14:25-26 is incomparably more powerful than all those we have and may dream about.
He said, "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." What a mission! God builds his church's corporate memory through the working of the Holy Spirit.
One of the great reasons that I need the Church of the Nazarene is for fellowship with the saints. This keeps me accountable and reminds me who I am, where I belong, and for what purpose I participate in our ongoing corporate history. It is very humbling and yet empowering for me to hear testimonies, see photos, watch videos, listen to songs, read reports, and review records such as membership rolls, minutes, letters, and cards. These recorded memories remind me of the acts of God in and through so many lives.
I thank God for the Holy Spirit who puts it all together and helps my fallible mind begin to grasp his idea of church.
Eugénio Duarte is general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.
Holiness Today January/February 2014