Summary: God used memories (the feast days) to help His people "remember" who they were and who they belonged to. How can we use the same principle for our children?
OPEN: Memorial Day originated when Southern women scattered spring flowers on the graves of soldiers during the Civil War. They honored the Northern dead as well as their own in this way. After the war, General John A. Logan (commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic) named May 30th as a special day for honoring the graves of Union soldiers. After WWI, the American legion took over this responsibility and eventually this day became a day to honor all those who had given their lives for our country.
Memorial Day is a day set aside to “remember” the price that has been paid for our freedom
And… on Memorial Day, many people set aside time to “remember”
· There are Memorial Day parades in cities across the nation
· There are special services held at Cemeteries
· And, this weekend, there is a new memorial has been dedicated in Washington D.C. to honor those who served our country in WWII.
APPLY: Memorial Day is a teaching tool.
And it’s designed to teach us to (pause…) “remember.”
One day a year our nation sets aside this day - and days like it - to remember things which is important to us as a nation.
I. God did that with His people too.
God set aside three special days – 3 festivals -. designed to teach His people to remember.
* There was the feast of Passover (that we’ve read about this morning). At Passover they REMEMBERED that their ancestors had once been slaves in Egypt, but God had led them out of slavery by His power and might.
* Then there was Pentecost. At Pentecost, Israel REMEMBERED that all their blessings came from God This was also called the feast of the 1st fruits, and during this festival they “remembered” that God had given them this promised land to live and raise their crops.
* Lastly, there was the Feast of Tabernacles. During this festival, the people were to dwell in tents to REMEMBER the 40 years Israel spent in the wilderness
Each of these festivals had several things in common.
· They were all days set aside to remember something about their relationship with God.
· And on each of these festival days, the Israelites were required to come to Jerusalem.
Deuteronomy 16:16 tells us: “Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed.”
This required a certain amount of sacrifice of time and effort. AND, these festivals ALSO cost them a literal sacrifice of - their flocks or herds. They were never to attend these festivals empty-handed.
Now why would God do this? Why would He require His people to leave their homes 3 times a year? Make this trek to Jerusalem? And offer sacrifices at the temple?
Simply put - God wanted His people to remember.
He wanted them to remember who they belonged to and who they were.
ILLUS: Several years ago, William Willimon (Upper Room 1980) wrote these words:
Back in high school, every Friday and Saturday night, as I was leaving home to go on a date, I remember my mother bidding me farewell at the front door with these weighty words, “Don’t forget who your are.”
She did not mean that I was in danger of forgetting my name and my street address. She meant that, alone on a date, in the midst of some party, in the presence of some strangers, I might forget who I was. I might lose sight of the values with which I had been raised, answer to some alien name, engage in some unaccustomed behavior.
“Don’t forget who you are,” was her maternal benediction as I left home.
God wanted His people to remember who they were and so He used various tools – like these festivals - to teach His people. To remember who they were.
II. Now… as Parents… grandparents… or whatever - this is what we want for our families as well. We want our kids to grow up – knowing who they are.
We WANT them to remember who they are…
· when they’re out on a date
· in the midst of a party
· in the presence of strangers.
AND our best way of doing that is to learn to do what God did: To create Godly memories.
Just as God involved His people with religious activities that reminded them who they were, we need to involve our families with spiritual activities that drive home who they are, and who God is.
It starts with Church… but it goes so much farther than that.
As I examined these 3 festivals I discovered 5 principles we can use to strengthen our families