Reading through the Old Testament with my kids (via Eegermeir’s Bible Story Book) has taught me a lot. Simplifying things to the bare essentials does much to reveal themes in the greater story. Today I am struck by the reason given for Israel’s frequent slides into idolatry. We are told that, over and over, they forgot what God had done for them, and began to worship other gods.
Doesn’t it seem strange that turning away from God is blamed on a failure of memory? What about, “The children of Israel found the worship of a fertility goddess more interesting”? Or, “The children of Israel got tired of traveling all the way to Shiloh to worship the Lord, and longed for the convenience of an Ashera pole”?
But no, the Bible tells us they strayed because they forgot. Without the bright truth of Yahweh’s covenant before them, the prevailing beliefs of their time must have seemed reasonable, even practical.
I believe God knew this would be a struggle for His people, and that’s why so many of Israel’s faith traditions – the feasts, the fasts, the tassels, and tefillin – are devoted to remembering. It is why we were given Holy Communion, and the reason behind many of our Christian holidays.
Beyond the church calendar, though, I have noticed that families often develop their own rituals of remembrance. My favorites are the little variations, like the family who reads Bible stories at supper time, because they have the best conversations then. But I have also seen elaborate systems like the family who collects prayers of thankfulness in a seasonally decorated basket, to be offered together at special times.
So I’m curious: What does your family do, on a regular basis, to remember?
He occasionally blogs at jamesdwitmer.com or @jamesdwitmer, spends his free time digging in the garden with his wife, and is pleasantly surprised to find that loving his family makes meaningful change in the world.