Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stones of Remembrance...

Remembering G-d's Mighty Works in Our Lives

Angus Dei (Lamb of G-d), by Kristina Elaine Riley. [1.]

One of the greatest challenges to our Faith is our forgetfulness. Pastor Seth Hankee preached our sermon this past Sunday about how the people were instructed to remember the great things G-d had done for them. G-d separated the Jordan, as He had the Red Sea, for the people to walk across and gave them the following command:

"And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.

Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your G-d into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day." -- Joshua 4:1-9

The Passover meal had already been instituted as testimony to G-d's redemption, so that a child would ask: "Why is this Night Different from all Other Nights?" The story in a meal gave illustration to the miracle that had carried the people out of Egypt.

 For the Christian, remembering deliverance from sin is the greatest miracle. In preparation for Easter, the Church observes Lent, reminding us of the deliverance Jesus brought us by way of the cross: 

"Ash Wednesday emphasizes two themes: our sinfulness before G-d and our human mortality. The service focuses on both themes, helping us to realize that both have been triumphed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

During some Ash Wednesday services, the minister will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers. The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian worship. Historically, ashes signified purification and sorrow for sins."-- —Adapted from The United Methodist Book of Worship

So it is very important to tell our stories of redemption, using reminders that will stir our minds to recall times when we were vividly aware of the Divine reaching out to touch our lives. Pastor Seth showed us a little children's book he had saved from his first house... on closer examination you could see the tire print on the page, a reminder of how when a car careened into his living room, it had narrowly missed hitting his wife and young child. Certainly G-d had protected his young family and that little book now told a much bigger story!

So now it is time to commit ourselves to the telling of the great stories, the ones that end in redemption and deliverance from our present condition. The Book of Judges follows the Book of Joshua and gives a sober warning: "And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel." -- Judges 2:8-10

The importance of stories and their redemptive narrative cannot be emphasized enough. Passing the torch must always be a priority in every generation.

1. "I did this with a sheet of 8.5"x11" computer paper some ashes from my fire place and canola oil. I mixed up some of the oil and ashes similar to how they are mixed on Ash Wednesday and painted them on the paper in a cross then sprinkled the rest of the dry ashes on top. I then found one of the music compositions for "Agnus Dei," Latin for Lamb of G-d, on www.hymnary.org [click to read] and cut out strictly the music overlaying it and changing the opacity over the picture of my ash cross. Then I added the Latin words meaning, "Lamb of G-d, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us, grant us peace." This piece is to remind us that we are sinners made up of dust, but G-d loved us so much, he took mercy on us sending His son as a sacrificial lamb, to take away our sins. If we believe and accept his sacrifice we are granted this eternal peace and life with Him. May the Lord bless you all and lead you closer to Him during this season of Lent, looking forward to the promise of Easter. Amen." -- Kristina Elaine Riley

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