When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua: 2‘Select twelve men from the people, one from each tribe, 3and command them, “Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood, carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you camp tonight.” ‘ 4Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, one from each tribe. 5Joshua said to them, ‘Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of the Israelites, 6so that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, “What do those stones mean to you?” 7then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial for ever.’
The Lord knows how forgetful people can be, and how we tend not to remember. So in today’s text God is calling for the nation of Israel to set up memorial stones and to remember. And when moms and dads take their kids on long weekends to visit these memorial stones they are to be ready to answer the question: “What do these stones mean to you?”
For many, Memorial Day is just another long weekend, the end of the school year and the start of summer. We are busy people and it is easy for us to forget the real meaning of this day. My mother used to call it “Decoration Day,” as she and her family would “decorate” the graves of fallen soldiers with flags and flowers. Over time, we have come to call this “Memorial Day” as we memorialize and remember the sacrifice of so many.
While Memorial Day is not an expressly religious holiday, this day can serve a value that runs throughout the Bible from beginning to end — that is the value of remembering. Again and again, the Lord God calls on his people to remember. Not only is not remembering embarrassing and inconvenient, it is fraught with real spiritual danger.
In a time of such rapid change as ours, we tend not to look to our past. We regard what “has been” as pretty much irrelevant to “what’s happening.” But the philosopher and historian, Rousas John Rushdoony, warns of a tyrannical undercurrent that threatens us all: “The purpose of stripping men of their past is to reshape them into whatever form their elite rulers choose. The result, however, is not a new man, but a lost and dying man.”When we don’t remember the past, we not only forget who we are, but where we’re headed.
As I was putting up the Stars and Stripes this morning, it occurred to me, that Memorial Day doesn’t do the remembered any good. Rather, it’s something that we do for us.
On this day we have so much to remember, so much worth preserving, and so much to pass on. The faith and the values we so treasure are never more than one generation from extinction.
“Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.” —Abraham Lincoln
A blessed Memorial Day, and remember!
WEEKLY CLASSES WITH TIM SMITH:
EVERY WEDNESDAY THROUGH THE SUMMER
AT THE FRANCISCAN RENEWAL CENTER
(GARCES ROOM OF PIPER HALL)
Wednesday Noon – 1:00 P.M.
Songs for Life’s Journey: The Psalms of Ascent
Wednesday Evening 7:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.
Profiles of Spiritual Maturity: The Letter of James