Remember Who You Are

Sunday, May 15, 2022
Pastor Deb Kielsmeier

Acts 17:16-31

It is graduation time, and today we are honoring Augustana’s high school graduates. Graduation reminds me of a story.

It was the 1950s and a young high school graduate was the very first in his North Dakota farm family to attend college. As he was getting ready to leave home – everyone – grandma, mom, aunts, and uncles – was giving him advice.  Call home, don’t forget to take your vitamins, wash your clothes once a year. That kind of thing. Everyone, that is, except his father. His father remained silent.  When the day for his departure came, his father alone drove him over an hour to the nearest train station. He sat through that long drive waiting to hear what his father would say to him.  Nothing.  Finally, the train was in the station, and after they loaded his bags onto the train, his father gave him a hug and said, “Son, remember who you are.” That was it. “Remember who you are.” But those few words summed it all up. And those words stuck with him. Especially in situations where he was tempted to compromise. Remember who you are.

Remember who you are.

That is important for graduates, but for each one of us as well. No matter our age or situation.

Remember who you are.

BUT, It begs the question, Who are you?

Scripture tells us that you are a beloved child of God. You are the son or daughter of a King. And not just of any King but of the King of Kings.

In our scripture passage for today we read of the Apostle Paul walking around Athens – a city was filled with idols made from stone or silver which the people worshipped.

Now, you and I may not be tempted to worship ancient Greek gods like those of the Athenians. But make no mistake, our modern world is FILLED with idols. False gods that demand to be worshipped. Idols are everywhere. Money, power, success, beauty, sports, popularity, pleasure, adventure – not bad things in and of themselves. But they can easily become idols – false gods, promising us a life full of meaning and happiness.

Our culture tells us that we should be beautiful, or powerful, or accomplished, or popular, or successful in sports, or academics – or whatever. Again, none of those things are bad in and of themselves. BUT, if you base your worth, your identity or your “reason for being” upon one of those things, it is like walking on shifting sand. They will demand your allegiance, your time, your energy, and your all. And in the end, they will leave you empty.

It is easy – very easy – to let yourself be defined by what others say about you. To measure your worth by what the world says you should be. When you do, you allow your identity – and worth – to be defined by a false god. And you have forgotten who you are.

Remember who you are.

You are God’s beloved child. You are the child of the Lord of heaven and earth, the one who made the world and everything in it. God knit you together in your mother’s womb – God gave you life, God walks with you and guards you as the apple of his eye (Deut. 32:10)

You may be a graduate this year, looking forward to college, a gap year, or work and all that the future might hold. Or…. You may be an adult building a family or career, you may be a student, or you may be retired. Regardless of your age, there are times you will be tempted to forget who you are  — and live in a way that denies this truth—kind of like Simba in The Lion King.

By the way. It has probably been years since you last watched that movie. But the message is spot on. It is worth watching again.

Simba forgot who he was. And did things that convinced him that there was no turning back. But do you remember what his father’s spirit whispered to him in that dark time? “Remember who you are!” And remember, the Spirit “lives in you.” For you are his child.


You are God’s beloved child. God’s Spirit lives in you and in God we live and move and have our being.

Your father, God created your life. Your mother God has nurtured you since your first breath. And God will never let you go. Not even in death.

You are the child that Christ gave his life for so you might be free.  His back is scarred by the 49 lashes of the whip – and are holes in his hands and feet and side. Out of love for you.

God’s beloved child.  Remember who you are.

But there is a second thing to remember. AND it is like the first.


God not only created and redeemed you; but has called you by name;  and says, you are mine. Is. 43:1

Isaiah 49 says

“Can a mother forget the baby at the breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you. See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

 Amazingly the truth is that a human mother CAN forget the child she has borne.  It doesn’t happen often, but we do know parents who spurn their children and push them away.   But, God will never forget you no matter what. Your name is tattooed on the palm of His hand. (Yes, God has a tattoo!)

There isn’t much in this life that is sure, but one thing that is sure is God’s love for you as his child.

And another thing that is sure is this.

You can always, always come home to God. You may find yourself wandering far from God, living for false gods, or making bad choices – ending up in place of suffering, pain, and darkness. I want you to hear me on this. You may find yourself in a dark place. It might feel like you can’t go back or there is no way out. But God’s arms are open wide- waiting for you to run into them. Always. No matter what. You are loved. And you belong to God.

So, the first thing is this: Remember who you are. You are the beloved child of God.  And the second thing is like it.  Remember whose you are, who you belong to.  You belong to God, and you can always, always come home. AMEN.

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