November 02, 2010

The Monuments of Remembrance By Marcia Lee Laycock

I picked up an old magazine in a doctor’s office yesterday. It was an anniversary issue, dated Sept 11, 2002. The magazine, a Canadian publication, was dedicated to the remembrance of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. What I found interesting was the slant the publication gave to almost every article. Each one detailed how remembering the tragedy strengthened those who had been there and the millions who had watched the attack on television.

One article outlined how a family of seven was remembering their dead father by planting a tree. Another covered the details of the ceremonies at ‘ground zero,’ and how the planning of the monument was helping the survivors take another step toward healing. A third article talked about the monuments of remembrance the United States has used to commemorate other tragedies, like Pearl Harbor and the attack in Oklahoma. Throughout each article the message was the same – remembering makes us stronger; remembering helps us heal.

We have known that for a long time. Every nation, every generation has erected its monuments, its symbols of remembrance of both victories and defeats. After the two world wars, Europe was dotted with them, and most have been maintained to this day. We can find them here too, in our own back yard - monuments to the dead, monuments set in stone so the generations to come will not forget. They stand as warnings and as tokens of honour and thanksgiving. We stand before them in solemn silence, and well we should.

Remembrance. Jesus used that word on the eve of what looked like a tragedy, as he served his disciples a simple meal of bread and wine. He used them as symbols, metaphors for his own body and blood which he knew would soon be broken and spilled out. Jesus told us to remember and we have. Our monument is an instrument of torture and death – the cross of Calvary. We use it as a symbol. We hang it on the walls of our churches and on chains around our necks. It is a universal symbol calling us to the remembrance of One who died for a purpose.

But there is another element to the cross. We need not stand in front of it in silence with sober faces. We ought to rejoice before it, because it not only symbolizes death, it signifies life. It not only portrays justice, it blazes mercy. It not only demonstrates wrath, it bleeds with compassion. The cross of Christ is a monument to the greatest victory in history. Jesus said – “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Remembrance heals. Remembrance strengthens. Remember Him.

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  1. Marcia, this is deeply thoughtful. It will make me look at monuments in a slightly different way. I do wonder if some of Jesus lesser known followers kept and treasured any small momentos of his time on earth.

  2. Thanks for the lovely post, Marcia

  3. Marcia... What a great thought... remembrance heals, remembrance strengthens.

    I loved the words you wrote: "it blazes mercy.... it bleeds with compassion."

  4. Hi Marcia,
    Your words made me marvel at how Jesus knew we'd be stronger by remembering and that we'd get through the present if we looked back. He knew the future and he knew we'd need to remember the past. He's awesome!
    Pam M.


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