Our religion is founded upon the idea that we remember what God has done for us. Scripture commands us to remember: remember the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8), keep the Sabbath as a reminder of creation (Exodus 20:11), remember what the evil Amalek did (Deuteronomy 25:17). Regarding using memory aids like the Lord’s Supper, Jesus told His disciples to “do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).
We understand the need for memorials. In the middle of the state of Indiana a 284 ½ -foot monument sits inside a circular, brick-paved street in the heart of the capital of Indianapolis. Since the public dedication of the monument in 1902, it has become the symbol of the city and state. Originally designed to honor Hoosiers who were veterans of the American Civil War, it now serves as a tribute to Indiana’s soldiers in the Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican-American and Spanish-American Wars. It is the largest outdoor memorial in the state.
The structure was constructed over a 13-year period between 1888 and 1901. The cost of the structure in 1902 was nearly $600,000. Estimates guess that the same building today would cost over $500 million. At the time, leaders of the state wanted the monument to be built from stones with an Indiana connection and heritage. Oolitic limestone from Owen County and bronze were used in its construction.
The monument’s cornerstone was laid on Aug. 22, 1889. Inside its box were placed a list of Indiana soldiers who served in the Civil War, newspapers from the time, copies of Indiana’s constitutions, a 38-star American flag, and related items from the groups representing the armed forces of the War. A ceremony featuring a speech by President Benjamin Harrison highlighted the day. The observation deck of the monument is accessible by a 330-step climb of stairs.
Today the entire Circle in downtown Indianapolis is set aglow by a five-minute seasonally-themed light presentation. The display is shown each night during the year and is synchronized with an original score featuring music from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The city and Monument Circle become the canvas for the painting of Indiana’s legacy to the country.
Indianapolis is a very patriotic city and is concerned that its citizens remember the past. There are more monuments and memorials in the city than anywhere else in the United States except for Washington, D.C.
Moses told the people, “Guard yourself and guard your soul carefully, lest you forget the things your eyes saw and lest these things depart your heart all the days of your life. You shall make them known to your children and to your children’s children” (Deuteronomy 4:9).
As we continue with the Old Testament story in 1 Samuel, Samuel and the people of Israel are worshipping God, dedicating themselves to returning to obeying and serving their God. As they are gathered together, the Philistines seize the opportunity and begin an attack. This time God was with them and led them to a decisive victory.
After the battle, Samuel took a stone and set it up on a well-traveled path between Mizpah and Shen where the fight had taken place. He named the stone Ebenezer and said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.”
The Ebenezer was set to remind the people of God’s involvement with their lives up to that point in time. Remembering God became an important part of their normal walk in life. Would you like to raise your own Ebenezer?
You certainly could use a stone from your property, perhaps having it polished by a jeweler or purchase a stone, picture or plaque to be used for the memorial, but something that would serve to represent your life and family would be very appropriate. A family heirloom, a framed picture taken at a recent reunion, or the latest picture taken at a Thanksgiving or Christmas celebration would work perfectly.
In Psalm 77:11 & 12, we are told, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” Remembering is a way to keep our faith and our convictions fresh in our minds. The word “remembering” literally means “I will call to mind,” or “I will make mention.” It is a public recounting of the story. Psalm 78 is an extended example of this. Remember the “miracles” – the wonders, literally God’s wonderful deeds.
As we “raise our Ebenezer” I am going to ask you to commit to doing three things this year.
For the first portion of raising our Ebenezer Stone, you are encouraged to tell your story. “What does this stone mean?” Pick an example from your past where you know that God was answering with thunder in your life. Use the Stone to tell your story. Find someone who needs to know that God has been at work in your life and in your family.
For the second portion of raising our Ebenezer Stone, you are encouraged to commit to thinking about God’s thundering in your life at least once a week. Ponder the acts of the Lord. Set aside a time to think about nothing but God’s actions – in the Bible and in your life.
For the third portion of raising our Ebenezer Stone, you are encouraged to place this stone someplace where you will see it, almost daily. Raise your Ebenezer where you will be reminded to remember, ponder and meditate on the thundering of God in your life.
As for you and your house, be known as a people who remember.