“Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance. … Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart when he goes into the holy place, for a continual remembrance before the Lord.” – Exodus 28:12b & 29 (NRSV)
For many years I wrote on my hands. School assignments. Phone numbers. Important times and dates. Scribbled on the heel of my palm at a safe distance from the sweaty center.
It was how I tracked my commitments. How I made sure to show up. How I kept in mind the people and places I might otherwise forget.
And often enough I still did. Until I was spooning up some ice cream or shaking someone’s hand, and there it was. There they were. A reminder.
Aaron is apparently the same way. Prone to forget the ones God has given into his care. So God writes their names on his body. (Supposedly to remind God, but who are we kidding?)
Aaron carries his people on his shoulders, over his heart. Just in case he forgets.
I would like to say I outgrew the practice of writing on my hands. That I’m just too grown-up or professional for that.
The truth is, I just got a cell phone. It’s full of all the same stuff: People to pray for. Ways to get in touch. Times when someone’s counting on me to show up.
Held close to my body. Almost always on my person. A continual remembrance of the ones that God has given me to carry on my shoulders and in my heart.
God, may your dear ones’ names be on my heart and in my mind today.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.