Stones of Rememberance
“When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7 NRSV).
When we cross the rivers of our lives, it is good to find ways of not only remembering these events, but also pass on the stories from one generation to the next. After Israel passed through the river, Joshua instructed the tribal leaders to select one person from each tribe to go back into the middle of the river, to where the priests had stood, and retrieve a stone. The bearers of these stones, were to pile them up, as a memorial to their crossing. That way, when the next generation, the generation that didn’t cross the river, but grew up in the Promised Land asked about the stones, then they could tell the story.
When Jesus as preparing to go to the cross, he gathered his disciples, and he shared bread and wine with them. He told them that the bread signified his body and the wine his blood, both of which would be shed the next day on the cross. That would be Jesus’ river. He told the disciples that they should continue to share this feast in remembrance of him. When we gather at the Welcome Table of Jesus, we dine with the Risen Christ. He crossed the river that was his death of the cross, and was raised to life again. And just as occurred when the people crossed the Jordan, God was with them. Yes, the word Jesus had for his disciples was the one God offered to the people of Israel as they prepared to cross the river: “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).
Even as the people of Israel set up this monument to God’s faithfulness to the promise of deliverance, so Christians gather at the Table to remember and live into the promise of God, who remains with us. As we experience our own river crossings, we will want to find ways of memorializing them so that we do not forget that God is with us on this journey.