Monthly Archives: June 2011

Celebrating Special Days–Lest We Forget

The created world is in sync with the rising and setting of
the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon and the ebbing and flowing of the ocean tides. Seasons come and go. Flowers blossom and die. Weather systems build and dissipate. We would do well to mark the passing of time rather than just let it pass, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Every day should not be viewed as just another day for either
work or entertainment. God set aside the Sabbath to celebrate first his creative majesty and second, his redemptive power in the deliverance of Israel from bondage. Later, Sunday became the celebration of our Saviour’s resurrection. One day a week should be special. Fortunately, our predecessors appointed special days to remember Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and much more.

The importance of special days and memorial pillars is
emphasized throughout the Scriptures. The law given on Sinai specified that the year be punctuated by special feasts and sacrifices. Joshua had representatives of the twelve tribes take up stones from the middle of the Jordan to set up as
a pillar of remembrance in the promised land. He said that they were “to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you…tell them” [what they commemorate](Josh 4:6,7). When the Philistines were subdued at Mizpah, Samuel “took a stone…He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the Lord
helped us’” (1 Sam. 7:12). Before his death and resurrection, Jesus instituted the communion as a special way to remember his death until he come again.

Today is the first day of summer, a day which in cold climes
we look forward to with eager anticipation. In our family, June is also a month of more personal celebrations; Mary Helen’s and my birthday, our wedding anniversary and sundry graduation ceremonies of our grandchildren.

Just a few days ago, our family put on a wonderful
celebration to commemorate our fiftieth wedding anniversary. What a special time it was to see friends and relatives and receive greetings from far and near. I’d been sort of lukewarm to holding such an event, but our kids insisted. I’m glad they did. It led Mary Helen and me to look back on all the astonishing ways God has cared for us through the years and the love he has nourished.

A life unmarked by mileposts is a life that just filters
through our fingers unnoticed, like sand through an hourglass.

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Uncommon Sense

Animals often display amazing ingenuity. Industrious ants build their colonies everywhere. They even farm aphids on the tender twigs of our cherry tree—not something I welcome.

 

 Hummingbirds buzz us in the early spring to remind us to put out their feeder. What instinct leads them, and other birds, back to the same territory year after year? And where do they learn to hover like that?

 This spring I admired the craftsmanship that went into the wood duck’s nest under the sheltering branches of the little cedar tree in our woods. And the nest building skill of a pair of blue jays had me going back often to the window to catch up on progress.

 So-called dumb animals fare well in biblical literature. “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; coneys are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks” (Prov. 30:25-27).

 By contrast the prophets often fault humans for their foolishness. “Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord” (Jer. 8:7).

 Animals instinctively know how important it is to conform their lives to the laws of nature, while humans tend to think they can break God’s moral laws without consequence. No wonder the prophets lament our tendency toward foolishness and rebellion. “The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand” (Is. 1:3).

 What else but foolishness leads a couple—or a nation—to spend more than they earn? Why else do humans inject and snort and drink poisons that ruin their health and shorten their life? Why do men and women think they can find love by cheating on their covenant partner? After reaping the bitter lessons of untold wars, why do nations continue to settle their disputes on the battlefield? Why do we demand a reduction in our taxes and an increase in services? Examples can be multiplied ad infinitum.

 Wisdom is in short supply while foolishness multiplies. We should heed the advice of the prophet and learn from dumb animals of conform our lives to the moral laws of the God. Foolish, immoral actions have lasting moral consequences.