“You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous. “You saw the suffering of our ancestors in Egypt; you heard their cry at the Red Sea. You sent signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his officials and all the people of his land, for you knew how arrogantly the Egyptians treated them. You divided the sea before them, so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters. By day you led them with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take. – Nehemiah 9:7-12
This is a circling back passage to remember ways that God has shown up for the Israelites in the past. This comes at a time of soul searching and spiritual stretching as a result of listening to Ezra read the law of Moses and trying to apply what it is saying. The Israelites are acknowledging that God kept His promises even when the Isrealites did not. He parted the red sea and had the Isrealites back as they fled the Egyptians.
The Israelites are talking about God like he is a rock star …”You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day.” They have come a long way from grumbling in the desert, wanting to go back to Egypt.
By remembering the God who sees them they are seeing God in a new way. They are willing to be guided by God’s light rather than seeking to make their own. The Israelites are restating here something that Joshua said back in Joshua 24:5-15…As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
This practice of remembering the things God has done is something that the Christian Church sometimes struggles to figure out. The Israelites used standing stones to commemorate memorable events in the life of their community. What do Christians do? How do we remember and commemorate the times when God shows up in our lives and the lives of those we love?
Certainly the Lord’s Supper, Communion, Eucharist, or whatever we call our remembering of Jesus’ offering of His body and blood for His disciples, and us, is a great “remembering”. Then there are Christmas and Easter, both of which are times of remembering. I wonder if there are less prominent events worth commemorating and remembering.
Perhaps something really unconventional like having a bowl of mud that we could commemorate Jesus healing the blind man described in John 9:6. It would be interesting, and perhaps instructive, for Christians to experiment with new ways of remembering. Even reminding one another with words would be a good way to practice remembering.
Prayer: God help us to remember ways you have shown up in our lives and talk about them when we gather together.