“Rocks of Remembrance”

"Rocks of Remembrance"

Rocks of Remembrance               Joshua 4:1-8

Several years ago my wife began a tradition that whenever she travels for work, she gives our kids a little silver rock.  Each stone has a word on it like love, faith, or peace.  The idea was that the stones would give each of our children something tangible to remember her by.  When they are especially missing Mom, they can hold the stone and remember that Mom cares about them.  They can put the stone in a pocket or a backpack and know that Mom is with them in spirit throughout the day.  It is just a simple little thing, but having the stones has been an important way for our kids to connect with Mom when she is away.  They have become a physical sign of her love for them when she cannot be present.

Stones have long been used as a physical sign to remind people of something important.  They have long been used as a way to mark a place and remember an event or a person.  If you travel around the US you will come across many places where there is a rock with a plaque on it describing something that happened at a certain time in that spot. It might be when a college was started, where an explorer passed through like Lewis and Clark, when a battle happened, or where someone famous died.  The Vietnam War Memorial is a well-known example of this.  Located in Washington DC, it is made of granite and written on it are all those who died in the Vietnam War so that their loved ones and all who visit the wall can come there and remember them.

This tradition of using stones to remember goes way back in history, even to the times of the Bible. One of the places in the Scripture where we first hear about stones being used as a memorial is in the Book of Joshua.  The Israelites are going to the Promised Land when they come up against the Jordan river.  The river is an obstacle the Israelites have to cross.  God once again miraculously parts the waters, but whereas the Israelites cross the Red Sea to escape and get out of Egypt, this time they cross the Jordan on dry land so that they can go into the promised land of Canaan.  Joshua has them stack twelve rocks, one for each of the tribes of Israel, to serve as a memorial to the miracle God performed there.

Centuries later, Jesus will give something tangible to his twelve disciples so that they remember who he is in their lives.  Jesus does not use stones, however. Instead, he gives his followers bread and wine which become our sacrament of Holy Communion.  Why do you think it is important that he gave us something physical to remind us of his presence with us?  What do you think Jesus wants us to remember as we come to Communion?  How might sharing in the sacrament be a way to help make God more “real” to people?

-Pastor Erik Goehner