“My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous..." Deuteronomy 26.5
With these words, Moses prepared the nation-in-waiting, Israel, for occupation of the Promised Land. "Remember who you are" is the strap-line of this year's General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which begins today. Rather than evoking triumphalistic or nostalgic memories of a glorious past, it is an exhortation - like the previous one - not to lose sight of the fact that we have been called and blessed for a purpose.
To call oneself a Christian is to acknowledge that we were hopeless sinners until God broke through and woke us up to the good news that Jesus paid the price for our sin. Moreover, he invites us into his family - the Church - as we journey together into the Promised Land of the New Creation. To call ourselves a church is to declare our allegiance to that invigorating mission, which begins now and continues forever.
Local - and even national - churches ebb and flow. Sometimes, as he did with Israel, God leads us through lean times of refining. On other occasions he allows the church to contract in one place to facilitate expansion in another. Always a faithful remnant is retained because the advance cannot be stopped and one day the whole earth and all creation will be full of the glory of the Lord. To the cynic this is wishful thinking; to the believer it is what gets one up in the morning!