Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Erecting memorials on our knees

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 10:1-23a

TO CHEW ON: “About the ninth hour of the day, he saw clearly in the vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius!’ And when he observed him he was afraid, and said, ‘What is it Lord?’ So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial to God.’ Acts 10:3,4

It has become customary in the last few years to erect roadside memorials near the sites of accidents where people have died. You’ll find such fading crosses and makeshift cairns along many a Canadian roadside and street. Though at first they are surrounded by flowers, teddy bears, cards and other bits of memorabilia, the continued care of some surprises me. It probably shouldn’t, because it’s not unusual to want to keep the memory of a loved one alive. A tidy, well-maintained memorial is testimony to the fact that someone wants the world to keep remembering the person they loved.

The angel who came to Cornelius called his alms and prayers “a memorial before God.”

(Memorial [mnemon – here mnemosunom]: means mindful, to call to mind, to make mention of. It is also translated recall, remember, remembered, remembering, thinking)

In the Bible a memorial is usually a reminder to us (humans) about some aspect of God and our relationship to Him. Feasts (the Passover, the Lord’s Supper) are called memorials. They remind us of God’s action on our behalf. The memorial manna sample was a reminder of God’s care in giving the Israelites  daily food. The extravagant anointing of Jesus’ feet by an unnamed woman at Simon's dinner was the memorial she left to us as someone who loved well. Here, though, the memorial goes the other way. Cornelius’s alms and prayers reminded God of him.

I believe our prayers operate in the same way. It’s comforting to think of petitions uttered on behalf of friends, kids, family members, communities, countries, leaders, even the world as little crosses beside the streets of heaven – little reminders to God: Don’t forget Susie with cancer, Doug the prodigal, Chad the missionary, my Prime Minister, the victims of the Haiti earthquake… Let’s keep praying and maintaining our memorials as strong, fresh, and urgent before God.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for this picture of my prayers. Help me to understand the seriousness and necessity of them. Amen.

MORE: "Why cannot an omnipotent God, knowing our needs, supply them without waiting for our prayers? He could, of course, but that is not His plan for His children on earth. Instead, He has dared to arrange it so that He is actually dependent upon us in the sense of prayers being necessary and all-important to the carrying out of His will on earth." Catherine Marshall - The Helper, 1978.




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