15 June 2015

Memorials (part 1)

Yesterday at LCM church (Anglican) in Sydney one of the pastors said as an aside, "God wants us to remember." It was almost a throw-away line, but seriously made me think about how often in the Scriptures the word is used and the theme of it running throughout. 168 times in 163 verses (32 in the Psalms alone) the word is used in the Bible and that's nothing to dismiss. Why the serious memory challenge? Why so much looking backwards?

Consider holidays. The Jewish people celebrate Passover and the Christians celebrate Easter each year about March/April. Each is a memorial of God's activity in the human dilemma. Jewish people escaped slavery after 400 years in Egypt and Christians note the salvation brought about by the death and resurrection of Jesus, the God-man Savior.
The first one who actually does 'remember' in the Bible though is the Almighty. He says, "I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9.15-16) This has to do with rainbows and what we see as a natural phenomenon of beauty or scientifically as mist and sunshine and right angles, God sees as a string-around-His-finger to remind Him of the flood of Noah and His own decision to "never again" do that flood thing to the whole planet.

Memorials are set up worldwide in cemeteries and on plaques in musea and in text books to help us get a glimpse of time then and for a future consideration as well.

For instance, “But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.”- George Washington, first president of the USA.

Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh had a brief convo about this: "Pooh, when I'm--you know--when I'm not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?" "Just me?" "Yes, Pooh." "Will you be here too?" "Yes Pooh, I will be really. I promise I will be Pooh." "That's good," said Pooh. "Pooh, promise you won't forget about me, ever. Not even when I'm a hundred." Pooh thought for a little. "How old shall I be then?" "Ninety-nine." Pooh nodded. "I promise," he said." AA Milne in House at Pooh Corner

And one more from Stephen King, “Writers remember everything...especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he'll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar. Art consists of the persistence of memory.” ― Stephen King, in Misery

So memories have purpose and a call to remember things and events and people and such has a purpose as well. If we don't remember we are destined to repeat mistakes. If we don't remember, we will think that all of life just began today and miss opportunities. We will fake our way into insignificance. Whatever it is in our lives which help us remember, and whatever sudoku and puzzling we can play to strengthen that, is for our good and the good of society in general.

Listen to these words from the Scripture, "Remember, do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you left the land of Egypt until you arrived at this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD." (Deuteronomy 9.7) Most parents would remind kids to forget their mistakes, but the Lord tells us to remember how we blew it and thus understand our un-deserved-ness. In other words, if you think you are doing ok, if you are sure that your compliance with biblical standards stands you in good stead with the Lord, you will miss out. "What!" you say?

Yes, when you establish a checklist system by the which you think you are afforded God's reward of heaven or at least a heavenly life on earth, then you miss out. Why? Because you are sinful. Because you fail Him. Because you are ever falling short of God's standards and thus deserving of God's punishment. But if you remember your own sin, and remember that EVEN SO, God amazingly loves you and desires to be with you, then you begin to understand GRACE. That's what the Bible calls God's unmerited favor. Unmerited in that you cannot merit or earn it.

Forgetfulness is endemic to a people, unless we set up memorials in calendars or in locations. For instance, in the book of Judges, we read, "as soon as Gideon was dead, the sons of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god. Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; nor did they show kindness to the household of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in accord with all the good that he had done to Israel. (chapter 8.33-35) Forgetting who we are, and whose we are, and who has helped us in the past, caused us to dishonor the past, and break God's command of forbidding idolatry.

I love the idea of God remembering even when we forget. Nehemiah was a court official and became a prophet to the Jewish people. His words help in this regard, “They refused to listen, and did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; so they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.
But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; and You did not forsake them. (9.17)

How awesome is the Lord who remembers even when we refuse and forget.

But if we remember and keep the memory of others and their deeds, of others and their hopes, of God and His plans in our minds, then we are benefited, and we are going to make a difference in the world. The choice is yours. What's on your mind today?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank you for composing such an encouraging evaluation of remembrance.
"we give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
REMEMBERING without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Y'shua, G_d's Messiah, in the sight of G_d and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of G_d". 1 Thess v2.
Y'shua's nail scarred hands remind me of His fulfilment of what is written in the books of the Bible. Stephen King correctly emphasises what vivid recollections we have when we look at scars.
Blessed Be The LORD.

Bob Mendelsohn said...

Thanks Anony, happy to do so. Check out the one on Anzac Day which is "Reunions (Part 3)" http://aussie-jewsforjesus.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/reunions-part-3.html You might like that one also