ďConstant RemindersĒ

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

2 Timothy 3:14-17

August 24, 2003

 

 

Near the intersection of Rt. 340 and Rt. 608 is a historical marker, which tells about a man by the name of John Colter, who was born in Stuarts Draft around 1775, and who went on to become a member of Lewis and Clarkís northern expedition.

As all of us know, the Shenandoah Valley is full of these historical markers, which teach us about our history, the people and events that make up our history.They are the stories of old, stories that have been passed down through the generations, the stories that serve as a constant reminder of the history that we are a part of.

There are other stories we know too, but these stories arenít found on historical markers next to roads.They are found in the memories of our ancestors.They are stories of our families, the stories of old, the stories that are also passed down through the generations, the stories that also serve as a constant reminder of the history that we are a part of.

The stories we hear from and about our ancestors are more than just stories of past people.They are stories about us.They help us define who we are, where we come from, and to whom we belong.They are a constant reminder that our history doesnít begin with our birth and end with our death.

Our history encompasses an enormous expanse of time, from countless generations and events of the past, to generations that have yet to be born and events that have yet to happen.

We are but one small, but significant, part of a much larger story, a story that not only reaches far back into our past, but includes the present and the future, because our story is more than just about what happened before us, our story is also about what is happening in our lives now, and about will happen in the lives of those who come after us.

This is why our stories are so important for us.This is why we need to know our stories.This is why we need to be constantly reminded of our stories, because it is our stories of the past that help guide and direct us into the unknown future.

Each of us has our own family story, a story we belong to, and a story that belongs to us, and yet, there is another family story all of us belong to, another family story that belongs to us, and that is the family story of Godís people.

This story doesnít just go back several generations, but to the beginning of time when God created man and woman, to the people whom God called into a covenant relationship, people such as Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, and David, to the events that shaped their lives, and ultimately, for the world, to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the creation of the church.

This story, like our own family stories, is the story of old, the story that has been passed down through the ages, the story that defines who we are, where we come from, to whom we belong, and most importantly where we are going.

Our text for this morning, takes us back to a time long, long ago, not to a galaxy far away, but right here on earth, to the mountainous desert of Moab, just east of the Dead Sea, in present day Jordan.It is here that the Israelites have gathered.It is here in the deserts of Moab that Moses stands before them and reminds them of their story as Godís people, reminds them of what God has done for them, and reminds them of the laws and commandments that were given by God.It is here in the deserts of Moab where we are given the words of Moses collected in the Biblical book we call Deuteronomy.

What is so significant about Deuteronomy?This book is the bridge between the story of the Israelitesí past we find in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and the story of the Israelitesí future we find in the remainder of the Old Testament.But maybe the most important question for us, is why does Moses have to remind the Israelites of anything?Why does Moses need to remind them of their 400 years of captivity by the Egyptians?Why does Moses have to remind them of escape across the Red Sea?Why does Moses have to remind them of the events at Mt. Sinai, and the giving of the Ten Commandments?Why does Moses have to remind the Israelites of their 40 years in the wilderness?

††††††††† Because a whole generation has passed since the Israelites left Egypt, and now a new generation is standing on the edge of the promise land, the land flowing with milk and honey, the land God promised they would have.But, most importantly, Moses has to remind the people, because it will be this new generation that will pass on the story of Godís people to future generations, so that the people of God will remain faithful, so that the people of God will never forget who they are, where they came from, and to whom they belong.

Brothers and sisters, like the Israelites at the edge of the promise land, we too find ourselves at the edge of a new promise land as the next generation in a long line of generations who have come before us.Their story is none other than our own story, our own story of Godís deliverance, our own story of Godís laws and commandments, our own story as Godís chosen people, our own story we have been called to pass on to those who will come after us.

What is this story we are called to pass on?On the one hand it is the love of God we have in Jesus Christ, but on the other hand it is so much more.The story we are called to pass on to the next generation of Godís people is the faith and Biblical knowledge we have as Godís people.

And that is not an easy task, which is why all of us need constant reminders of what our story is.Not only do we need to hear the story over and over, but we need to also know the story.We need to know the story so intimately that not only does it become a part of us, but we become a faithful part of it, because we must never forget that we are the continuation of the story, the story that God even now is at work in, the story that even now is being spoke about and worked out in our daily lives, the story that will continue until its fulfillment on the last day.

How can we begin to know our story?We can begin by continuing to read and study the Bible, for it is only in the Bible where we will find our story, not on any historical marker by the street, or in any text book in our schools, and certainly not on any television set in our living rooms, and television evangelists donít count, but in the Bible we have in our own homes and in our church.

How can we begin to know our story?By following the laws and commandments of God as given to us in Scripture, not as a way to make ourselves right with God, but as the way in which we respond and commit ourselves to being in relationship with God in the right way.

How can we begin to know our story?By telling it to our children and our childrenís children wherever we are, and whatever we are doing over and over again.Any time is the right time to talk about God with our children.Any time is the right time to talk about Jesus with our children.Any time is the right time to demonstrate to our children our own faith in our Lord and Savior, and our commitment to his church.

Knowing our story isnít about going through the motions of Christianity, itís about being the people of God as Christians.Itís about making an impact in the lives of our children, so that our story becomes the story of our children, so that some day, our children will gather their own children in their arms, and with a Bible in hand, will say to them, ďThis is the story of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.This is your grandparentís story, this is my story, and now this is your story.ĒAmen.