Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hanging Memories

The season of Christmas has come and gone. By now most everyone has put up their decorations, probably with some hesitation. The anticipation of the celebration of Christmas adds to the excitement of decorating, but taking down the trimmings generates a sense of sadness because it’s over. Or is it? 

Shouldn’t we continue to celebrate Immanuel, the God who came to live among us? Why do we allow ourselves to become downcast when we just observed the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Have we forgotten to remember? 

Throughout Scripture God appeals to our memory. He implored Israel to remember how He rescued them. He desires for us to remember the great things He’s done for us. He longs for His people to remember Him and praise His holy name. Our God is faithful to us and He yearns for our faithfulness to Him. 

The Old Testament details the many deeds King David did for the Lord God who repeatedly blessed him. No matter David’s situation or location, he always remembered God’s blessings, giving thanks and praise. While David built many houses for himself, he also desired to build a dwelling for the ark of God. After bringing it back to Jerusalem, he placed the ark in the tent he prepared and assigned the people to give thanks to the Lord. His psalm of thanksgiving is in 1 Chronicles 16 (also Psalm 105) and he instructs the people to remember the Lord and His deeds.

Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth.......Remember His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac (1 Chronicles 16:12,15-16). Through David, God instructs His people then and now of the importance of attaching His faithfulness to our memory.

The Old Testament gives more accounts of the people of God remembering the God who delivered them. He rescued His people from Egypt in a mighty way, instituting a memorial of redemption called the Passover. On the night that God saved His people Israel, He asked them to dedicate to Him all the firstborn, both man and beast. It was to be an annual celebration of remembrance and Moses told them to remember what God had done for them.

Moses said to the people, “Remember this day which is the day that you came out of Egypt, out of the place you were slaves, because the Lord acted with power to bring you out of there. No leavened bread may be eaten. Exodus 13:3 (CEB) 

God wanted the Israelites to commit to memory His wondrous deed of redemption with a yearly festival. On the night they were delivered from Egypt, God told them to sacrifice a lamb, sprinkle the blood on their doorposts, and eat the roasted lamb with unleavened bread. Leaven works like yeast, causing bread to rise, and they didn’t have time to wait for leavened bread. Besides, leaven is symbolic of sin and was not to be eaten with a blood sacrifice. Many years later Jesus became that Passover Lamb and the Bread of Life. Because He was without sin, He was sacrificed for us so that we might be delivered from our sins. 
It’s because Jesus came to live on earth with us that we even celebrate Christmas. Every year at this time, I celebrate God’s faithfulness to me and my family as I decorate my memory tree. He has always been faithful to us, whether we acknowledged Him or not. When I hang up the ornaments on my Christmas tree, I glimpse into my past, reliving God’s grace and mercy though the years. You see, my tree isn’t ornately adorned with fancy ornaments and accessories; on it hangs memories from friends and family. 

I think of my loving grandmother and her art of hand stitching as I hang up the tiny sequined stuffed felt candy cane, Christmas tree, bell, poinsettia, and star that she gave me one Christmas. Placing the little stick angel with the frayed red gingham dress and yellow yarn halo on my tree reminds me of my delightful daughter as a small child. The fat flat felt snowman wearing a big black hat reminds me of my super son in grade school. Hanging two yellow plastic lids with pictures of my children on sleds in snow helps me to recall how God took care of my immediate family when we moved away from our parents. My mind travels to England where a dear friend lives as I attach little clay figures of a British constable and a royal guard onto my tree. The gold framed Christian symbols that I carefully fix upon the tree bring to mind a time when I cross-stitched ornaments for both of my God-fearing grandmothers, and since their passing have been returned to me. The mangers, crosses, Bibles, and scrolls declare my Christian heritage for generations, giving me hope, and I thank God for His loyalty and love to us in good times and bad.

As the holiday draws to an end and January is in full swing, I reminisce again about my faithful God while returning my ornamental memories to their boxes. Putting away my annual remembrances tends to make me unhappy until I remember that I did not put away Jesus. He’s still with me because He is Immanuel. And I look forward to a new year of creating memories with Him. 

Celebrate your memories of our Lord Jesus Christ’s faithfulness while reading how Jeremiah, David, Isaiah, and Jonah remembered God. Recall His goodness to you in the past, trust in His steadfastness for today, put your hope in His fulfilled promises for tomorrow, and give Him thanks.

Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.
Surely my soul remembers
And is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. 
Lamentations 3:19-23 (NASB)

I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever.  Psalm 45:17 (NASB)

And they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.  Psalm 78:35 (NASB)

O Lord, I remember Your name in the night, And keep Your law.  Psalm 119:55 (NASB)

And in that day you will say, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted.”  Isaiah 12:4 (NASB)

“While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, And my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple.  Jonah 2:7 (NASB)

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