I have been thinking a lot about memorial stones lately, partly following the death of my father. I’m not a sentimental person and the plethora of headstones and markers found in cemeteries don’t really do much for me, but there is a need in most of us to remember our loved ones and commemorate their existence in some way. We don’t want people to be forgotten; we know their value and want future generations to know this too.
In the Bible, we find memorial stones mentioned not so much to commemorate people, but to remember what God has done. They’re usually gathered together to make an altar to commemorate particular times when God appeared to people – to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for example. Then we have the twelve stones at Gilgal, commemorating the fact that the Lord parted the river Jordan so the Israelites could cross over on dry land, just as He had parted the Red Sea to allow their escape from Egypt. (Ex 14-15, Joshua 4). The stones served to remind people of what God had done and to explain to future generations God’s miraculous dealings with His people.
In ancient times, these stories about the stones were passed down from generation to generation orally, and this is still the most powerful way of sharing what God has done. This is what we are commanded to do. (Ps 48:13, Ps 78:4, 6; Ps 79:13; Ps 89:1; Ps 102:18)
This period of lockdown is often described as unprecedented. It’s never happened before, even during war. Many families have taken to making journals or doing craft work, not only to pass the time, but to commemorate what we hope will be a unique time in our history. These efforts are, in effect, our memorial stones to 2020.
I hope we can take these efforts and use them not only to remember what it was like to live in lockdown, but to remember what God did for us in this period. I long to be able to exhibit some of these activities at the Dearne Community Arts’ Festival (hopefully held in September 2020), but more than that, I am praying that our ‘memorial stones’ will remind us not only what it was like during this period but will be there to show future generations how God sustained us, provided for us, helped us and delivered us from all evil. Don’t throw way your ‘memorial stones’, but keep them to enable others to ponder anew what God does for His people, even in difficult times.