Our modern calendars are chock full of days to remember.
We commemorate important holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas—and influential people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Columbus (currently that one’s up for grabs).
And we also like to celebrate National Ice Cream Day or International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Yeah, that’s a thing!).
Today, nestled before Thanksgiving and Christmas, we take time to honor and celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans.
We call it Veteran’s Day.
Although we honor deceased veterans on Veterans Day, the day is also set aside to thank and observe living veterans in all branches who served honorably in the military-—in wartime or peacetime.
My grandfather fought in WWII. My dad served in the Air Force for four years. My son is currently in his sixth year of service in the Air Force. So, the day holds special meaning for me.
I hope you will take the time today to pray for and reflect upon those who have made sacrifices in service of this great nation.
But why is it important that we remember?
I’ve heard the importance of history explained like this. Picture an elderly man suffering from senility. He becomes disoriented. His personality and character erode. He loses all sense of who he was and who he is.
Anyone who has witnessed the effects of Alzheimer’s or dementia knows, it is a heartbreaking tragedy.
Friends, I think we’ve forgotten our own history in this country.
And as a result, we don’t understand the present and our role in it. Like the man suffering from senility, Americans have forgotten who we are and why we are here.
God places immense importance upon remembering.
A theme throughout Scripture is remembering.
When the Israelites were about to cross the Jordan River into the Promise Land, Moses warns, “Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 4:9 NIV (emphasis mine)
The Israelites were always in danger of losing their memory, forgetting who they are and whose they are.
And so are we.
So, how did God’s people remember to remember?
With God’s guidance, Moses provided his people with what we may call practices of memory—intentional patterns of behavior that remind them of their story. We see these practices throughout the book of Deuteronomy.
Moses makes the memory connection clear as he charges them to teach their children (4:9), profess and practice their faith (6:4-9), observe the Sabbath (5:12-15), give thanks for their blessings (8:10), and confess their sins (9:4-7).
Doing these things reminded them of their story.
Although our calendars remind us to make special and important observances (and some not so important), they lose their potency if they are not actually observed.
Scripture teaches us common themes in remembering: remember the LORD your God. Remember what God has done for you.
Remember who we are and whose we are. Our story.
Remembering Our Story.
Like the Israelites, we need to deliberately and regularly practice remembering. But how do we do this?
Forgetting doesn’t take special effort. It just gradually happens—it’s our gravitational pull. But remembering is more deliberate.
In our fast-paced, fast food, immediate gratification seeking society—pondering is a lost art.
The Merriam-Webster definition says, to think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply. The Hebrew meaning is to seek out with care, to search after, to inquire, to examine, to study.
To ponder means we must deliberately slow down, study, and reflect. Herein lies the problem.
“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in him.”
All we must do is look around us. Everything in God’s creation serves as a prompt for us to delight in Him and to remember.
This requires a posture of humility and gratitude.
As the poignant lyrics of America the Beautiful articulate,
God shed His Grace on the United States of America.
With the ever-increasing anti-Christian and anti-patriotic climate in this country, it is of utmost importance that we, the church—remember.
We must recall what God has done for us and for this country. We must share it with our children. We must commemorate and celebrate God’s grace in our lives by demonstrating His love to our neighbors.
As we observe our country’s veterans who have sacrificed and protected this great nation, may we also remember God’s hand that protects and loves each of us.
We are on the precipice of forgetting who we are and why we are here.
It starts with me and you, friends.
We must not forget to remember.
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