How Memorials Keep Us From Forgetting
This year in the United States, May 30 marks the observance of Memorial Day, an annual day for remembering the sacrifices of many thousands of men and women who died while serving in the military. It originated in the days following the U.S. Civil War. While not celebrating war, the annual holiday memorializes those who have lost their lives and recognizes the great price they paid in the name of freedom over nearly 250 years.
There are many kinds of memorials. We have buildings, streets, libraries, parks and even hospital wings are named after individuals who have made invaluable contributions to their communities and society. Some businesses continue to bear the names of their deceased founders. Tombstones and other kinds of grave markers served as memorials to loved ones whose lives have come to an end.
I remember hearing a speaker tell about how nameplates were put on artwork, pews and even offering plates at his church to remember important members of the congregation who had died. Imagine making a contribution in Mrs. Wilson’s offering plate – hope she would appreciate it.
Memorials have many purposes. They preserve the memories of people for future generations. They serve as final gestures of appreciation for important leaders, as well as expressions of love for dear family members. And they enable us to maintain links to our heritage and significant moments in our history.
In the Bible, we find many exhortations to remember, never to forget what God has done on our behalf in the past. In one New Testament book, after declaring, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” the readers are then admonished, “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering…. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:31-35).
This passage addresses a very common tendency most of us have – to forget things that have happened in the past as we confront struggles in the present. For those who follow Jesus Christ, it is often important to think back to what He has done to find assurance about what He can and will do in the future.
We find a number of references to memorials in the Old Testament. Not long after the Israelites had been freed from centuries of slavery to the Egyptians, God instituted the Passover observance, stating, “Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord” (Exodus 12:14).
Perhaps the most famous “memorial” in the Scriptures occurred when Jesus, just before His betrayal, trial, and crucifixion, was observing the Passover with His disciples. After breaking the unleavened bread and giving pieces to each, He told them, “This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). To this day, Christ-followers around the world observe holy communion as a memorial to His sacrificial death for our sins.
Perhaps we would do well, as we move forward in our careers and our lives in general, to establish our own memorials to remind us of important people, events – and most of all, what God has done for us.
© 2022. Robert J. Tamasy has written Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart, coauthored with Ken Johnson; and The Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.
1. When you think of the word “memorial,” what thoughts come to your mind?
2. Can you think of any prominent memorials where you live or work, whether buildings named in honor of a significant leader, a generous benefactor, or historical figure? What is the benefit, if any, of memorials like that – in your opinion?
3. What factors in our everyday life can cause us to lose sight of important people and milestones in the past that have left a legacy for the future?
4. If you were to create a kind of memorial as a remembrance for what God has done in your life, whether the recent or distant past, what might it be? What would it signify?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:Exodus 39:6-7; Deuteronomy 4:9-11; Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26