Memorial Perspectives

We all know that past experiences give insights into new ones. Even throughout the Scriptures, memorials were set up to provide reminders of things which had happened and of the Lord God who provided and protected in that experience.
Another perspective – I was sitting, waiting with a number of church leaders, for a meal in an African home after a long church council meeting. It was late in the afternoon, not dark as the sun had not yet set. Looking around the room, I noted a number of colorful calendar pictures and some dried (or wilted!) flowers on the walls. These were all there to decorate the otherwise drab room (clay-plastered mud bricks, dirt floor, grass roof).
However, in the center of one wall was a photograph, probably 10×14 inches, in a frame surrounded by fresher flowers. It was of a young man probably in his early 20s and was a picture of the eldest son of the family who had gone far away, down to Dar es Salaam, to attend university there. To the family, it was a reminder of their loved one who was far distant. Most of the men with me commented on the picture – how he had grown and changed and they laughed at the full beard he now sported.
Dinner was served – ugali, rice, chicken, gravy, greens – all the nice trimmings that make up a Sukuma meal! The food was served by a young man, clean shaven and very much at home.
The men looked at him, looked at the picture, and started talking excitedly. They recognized that the young man was the same one in the picture but now without the beard. The father Simoni (Simon), who was the evangelist of the village church, got up from the dinner group, went over to the wall and took down the picture and said, “Since he is now here with us we do not need to look at the picture. Now we see him face to face.”
The son had returned that day and that sumptuous meal was not only for us as church council members but a celebration of his return – the fact that “we now see him face to face.” The young man sat with us and we shared food together. Conversation was about his university experiences – a nice change from all the council talk!
So – that picture on the wall was a memorial or reminder which had served its purpose. Its purpose had been met – not to forget but to keep alive the hope of his return. And his picture was taken down because he returned and “we now see him face to face.”
O.K. The possible applications are many. I believe the greatest application is that now we “see” our Lord through His Word and in prayer, guided by the Holy Spirit, but wait for the promise of His return when we shall see Him “Face to Face”. What a great promise and expectation for us to experience!

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