From holidays to monuments, memorials commemorate and preserve a significant person, place or event. We can think of memorials as “direction markers” in history, showing the people and events that shaped cultures and individuals. Consider the following examples, most of which are likely familiar:
Labor Day celebrates the American labor movement and commemorates the social and economic achievements of workers.
Veteran’s Day honors people who served in the US Armed Forces. It coincides with Armistice Day and Remembrance Day celebrated in other countries. All of these mark the anniversary of the end of WWI.
Independence Day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 when the United States declared independence from Great Britain.
The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France in 1886, is a worldwide symbol of freedom & democracy.
Castle Clinton, the most visited national monument in the United States, sits on the bottom of Manhattan Island and was originally built to protect New York from British invasion during the War of 1812.
Memorials aid our memory and help us preserve what we cherish most as a culture. We have many types of memorials throughout history such as stones, prehistoric drawings on cave walls, grave markers, tombs, pyramids, obelisks, and statues.
Memorials also exist on a more personal level. We have special days like birthdays and anniversaries to commemorate the most important people in our lives and objects like wedding rings and photographs to help that remembrance to go beyond just a single day a year.
While remembering certainly exists on a variety of levels in our lives, is simply remembering and recalling enough? Is just bringing to mind these people and places and events enough to serve the purpose for which these memorials exist? If we just remember, are we doing justice to the event or person or place?
To help answer these questions, consider the theme of “remembering” that runs heavily throughout Scripture. Looking in depth at the word used for remembering can help us understand how we are called beyond simply recalling or remembering.
Azakarah (n) “memorial” = a sacrificial term describing the act “which brings the offerer into remembrance before God, or which brings God into honorable remembrance with the offerer.”
Zakhar (v) “to prick,” “pierce,” “penetrate”
These definitions help us see that the idea of “remembering” in Scripture goes well beyond just recollection by combining it with action and sacrifice.
You see, remembering or recalling by itself isn’t enough. Without action, we just have a day off work or a reason to eat or spend too much. When a call to action accompanies our remembering — which it does throughout Scripture — we find ourselves changed, hopefully for the better, as a result of that active remembering.
In the coming weeks, we’ll explore this idea of active remembering with the goal of discovering the true purpose remembering should have in our lives. And with that purpose, we’ll see the results that active remembering can bring to the life of a Christian.
DISCUSSION: How does remembering exist in an active way in your life?