Last year I told you that as a young person I distinctly remember attending only a few funerals. My most vivid memory is that of attending a memorial service for my eighteen year old cousin, Gail Lynn Strickland. He was killed when his helicopter was shot down in Viet Nam on August 12, 1971.
Each year, when Memorial Day approaches, I am transported back to the day of his memorial service. The raw emotion of this moment lingers in my mind still. At the time, I was just weeks away from turning thirteen. I remember sitting through the service with my cousin staring at me from the framed, glossy photograph, which was displayed on a table next to his flag-draped casket.
A few years ago, I found his name engraved in the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. I was not prepared for the emotional impact of this moment. Not just because I found his name, but because I found his name amidst so many others—more that 58,000 other names. Since then, Memorial Day has never been the same for me.
Memorials are Meaningful
We know this by experience. We also know this to be true from the Scriptures. A few examples of meaningful memorials are:
—The rainbow, a reminder that God would never again destroy the world by a flood, Genesis 9:13–16.
—The Passover, a reminder that the blood of a lamb saved sinners from judgment, Exodus 12:11–14.
—Some brazen censors, a reminder that no one except Aaron’s seed must attempt to offer incense, Numbers 16:39–40.
—The Sabbath, a reminder of a completed creation, Deuteronomy 5:15.
—Twelve stones, a reminder of God’s mighty power in bringing Israel across the Jordan into Canaan, Joshua 4:7.
—The manna in the Ark of the Covenant, a reminder of God’s super-natural provision in the desert, Exodus 16:32.
—Purim, a reminder of salvation from wicked Haman, Esther 9:28.
—The Feast of Tabernacles, a reminder of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, Leviticus 23:39–43.
—The anointing of Jesus’ head and feet by Mary, the sister of Lazarus, a reminder of Mary’s devotion to Christ, Matthew 26:6–13; John 12:1–7.
—The Lord’s Supper, a reminder of the broken body and shed blood of Christ, Luke 22:19.
God’s Memorial Day
Embedded in this list is what I believe to be the original memorial day, God’s Memorial Day. We read about it in Exodus 12. From this text we learn much about how such days impact our lives. More importantly, we learn why this is still a meaningful memorial for us today. In it we are reminded…
…of God’s love and power.
…of God’s ability to provide solutions for our problems.
…of God’s desire to deliver His children in distress!
…that there is power in the blood.
…that we should look beyond the moment and anticipate ultimate victory at God’s hand.
Remembering Is Important
In the final analysis it seems that the memorials serve three fundamental purposes:
1. They are INSTRUCTIVE, influencing and impacting our intellect.
2. They are EVOCATIVE, influencing and impacting our emotions.
3. They are DEMONSTRATIVE, influencing and impacting our wills.
This is why remembering is so important. It helps us to move into the future with an awareness of God that is unmatched, as well as a degree of wholeness that cannot be experienced otherwise. Indeed, memorials are meaningful.
© Bill Williams
May 22, 2007