Memorials Unto God

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a federal holiday honoring Americans who died while in active military service. Some people confuse Memorial Day with Veteran’s Day (observed annually on November 11th) that honors everyone who spent time in the Armed Forces. As a former National Guardsman myself, I go out of my way to thank fellow veterans who served our country. This also opens up doors to share the gospel with them.

Memorials are mentioned throughout Scripture to honor God, His people, and to commemorate things He’s done for us. Here are a few examples…

“So this day [the Passover] shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.” - Exodus 12:14

“And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. So Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders as a memorial.” - Exodus 28:12

“Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” - Joshua 4:7

In Matthew 26, a woman poured a flask of costly oil upon Jesus’ head. In response to His disciples’ indignation of that, Jesus said in verse 13, “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Acts 10 honors a Roman Gentile who eventually got saved. Through an angelic vision, Cornelius was told in verse 4, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.”

Some churches (particularly older ones) have allowed financing of communion tables, hymnals, pews, pianos, rooms, and stained glass windows in memory of deceased congregation members. Problems can develop if someone buys “naming rights” like what’s done nowadays with sports venues. Family members have used this to control a pastor’s decisions.

On the other hand, Calvary Campground in Ashland, Virginia has a couple buildings on the property named after past ministry leaders including the Rev. Wallace H. Heflin Sr. Memorial Tabernacle. Living Word Christian Center had a prayer room in their previous location named after a late intercessor who played a major role in that church’s formation. Another church I sometimes visit in Minnesota is Josiah Center. The Holy Spirit led the pastor to start a church with that name after his 22-month-old son Josiah died in a tragic accident.

It’s been said rear view mirrors are smaller than windshields because where we are going is more important than where we have been. A church having many memorials could become a religious museum with idols diverting attention from reaching the lost. Ultimately all memorials should glorify the name above all names.

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” - Psalm 20:7

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