About 200 of us gathered to remember- local dignitaries offered orations, a pastor led in prayer, and old men spoke of sacrifice and war with tremors of emotions in their voices. The trumpets played echo taps at the conclusion of the Memorial Day program and the mournful tune stirred a deep emotion of empathy for those who felt the ripping of death as a result of war. I was glad it was my privilege to participate in a slice of Americana that improved my memory of wars past that have been fought to protect the way of life I enjoy.
Remembering has become personal for me since Bev was called to her Heavenly home. Even now, just 5 months since she died, I find that while she is ‘present’ in a thousand ways, she also is fading from my daily life. As life goes on, the present replaces the past, and that is as it should be. No one should live completely in yesterday. However, I do treasure memories. Being fully aware that unless I make time to consciously recall key moments and special events, I will forget them; I choose to refresh my memory, even at the expense of painful emotions. I drive to the cemetery to stand by the stone placed at her grave. I sort through pictures. I tell our stories. I want to remember.
How’s your memory? For reasons not fully understood, our memories tend to fade with time, but many can be stirred to recall by a sound, a smell, or some other trigger. Obviously, we are glad that some things can be forgotten, but there are moments that we should never forget. For that reason, we have rituals that help us to remember.
God encouraged His people to remember. After significant moments or great victories, memorials were built for this purpose. When God led them across the Jordan into the Promised Land, Joshua told them “Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:5)
Passover, the moment that birthed Israel, became an annual event that reminded each generation who they are in the grace of God. Communion at the Lord’s Table reminds Christians of their identity, taking them back to Christ and His sacrifice with broken bread and the cup. Paul tells us “What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns.” (1 Corinthians 11:26, The Message)
That event in a Fire Hall yesterday helped me to recall the privilege of my national heritage and the price that has been made by so many to make America possible. I am glad that I remembered!
My Christianity is shaped by a great Sacrifice, I will remember! My faith has been sustained by the sacrifices of thousands over the centuries, who lived and died to transmit the faith to the next generation. I will remember! My hope for eternity is formed around a promise of a home in my Father’s house. I will remember.
Here is a word from the Word. Lord, help us to remember where we have been, who we are, and the promise to which we are called in Christ. Amen.
“Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” (Isaiah 46:8-9, NIV)
“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. … I remember your ancient laws, O LORD, and I find comfort in them. … In the night I remember your name, O LORD, and I will keep your law.” (Psalm 119:49, 52,55, NIV)
This is the body that was torn for us.
This is the blood that was spilt-
Points to the pain You endured for us,
Points to the shame, the blame, the guilt.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – come;
Move our hearts to remember.
This is the Lamb who was slain for us,
So we, the Church, may enter in,
So bittersweet when we think of You
The One who bore our curse, our sin.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- come;
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -come.
Move our hearts to remember!
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