Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Joshua 4:1-7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Twelve Stones Set Up at Gilgal
4 When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua: 2 “Select twelve men from the people, one from each tribe, 3 and command them, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood, carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you camp tonight.’” 4 Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, one from each tribe. 5 Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 so that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.”
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
One of the primary activities in scripture and in our worship life is remembering. We remember all that God has done for us. We remember the life and teachings of Jesus. We remember the people of faith who have gone before us.
On this last day of one of the most difficult years in modern history, we remember. We remember those who have died this year from COVID-19. We remember the heroic efforts of medical personnel, public health officials, and the scientists who developed the vaccines in record time. We remember the moments spent with loved ones and the technology that has enabled us to connect with one another at a distance. We remember the painful realities of 2020 and the blessings that were still to be had in the midst of the pain.
Part of remembering is setting up monuments to remind us. That is what Joshua ordered after the people safely crossed the Jordan River on dry land. They took stones from the river and created a memorial that would ensure that the story of God’s activity in the lives of the people would be told to children and children’s children after them.
People still do that today. While hiking you’ll sometimes see stacks of stones placed by the trail. With a stack of stones someone wanted to say simply “I was here” or “I am remembering someone I love who has died” or “We’ve placed these stones here as a sign of our love or friendship.”
Do you have “memorial stones” that mean something to you and your family—mementos that call to mind important stories and important people that have gone before you? Do you have traditions—especially during holidays—that tell a story that is important in your family? Do you have “memorial stones” from 2020 that you will carry with you into the new year?
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster