June 1, 2021
By: Gabriel Tseng

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lordsaid to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan.Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” – Joshua 4:1-7

Memorial Day is a day in which we celebrate or have memorial for those who gave their lives so that we could have ours. It’s an amazing thing to live in the legacy of such a context in which we tangibly, and sometimes unappreciatively enjoy the benefits of such sacrifice. It’s also a strange thing to consider how detached we can be from such things as well. Generation to generation, we seek to celebrate and remember past events, yet have a difficult time personally connecting to such moments as we move further in time away from these moments. I’ve never been a fan of celebrations, but as time passes and the covid season has robbed us of many, having a lunch or sitting together over coffee becomes memorable moments to cherish and cling to. They may help us to live appreciative and grateful lives that honour the people and the time in which we build and live in the shadow of. And yet another personal reason of my own disconnection may be a generational distinction in which I want to create a legacy of my own or having little tradition to lean into. 

Joshua, as the successor to Moses, encounters a very interesting moment, almost identical to his predecessor Moses. The Jordan River parts for God’s people to finally enter the promised land. These memorial stones are to be a sign for a purpose of passing these stories down to their children. Stories that my grandparents and parents have told to me have long lingered and been seared into my heart and mind. Stories of a difficult marriage and immigration story and the continued scars and wounds they carry with them from their own past. The stories, the memorial stones shape who God’s people would be. They would mark a pivotal moment in the life of God’s people, not a testament to their strength or resilience, but a testament to God’s continued faithfulness from generation to generation as they entered the promise land. 

A lasting thought here- it would have been somewhat bittersweet as they remembered passing through the Red Sea as children with their parents. It would have reminded the that the previous generation was promised the same thing, yet fell short. Yet, they were able to reap the benefits of a legacy, while imperfect, was also to be honoured. They would not have seen God parting the Jordan in such a way, but they would remember when God did a similar thing with the Red Sea, years ago. It would sear into their minds, God’s faithfulness to them, and to live in that grace by clinging faithfully to God as they entered the promised land, yet still with many challenges of their own to come. 

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