Altars of Remembrance are things, places, quotes and moments that mark our lives.
This month I am sharing four of my life’s markers.
Marker #4 Gratitude, Rest and Remembrance = Sabbath
Taking time to rest and remember what God has done, is doing, and I am hopeful for in the future is what Sabbath means to me – Rinse and Repeat, meaning to tiresomely repeat an action or event until it becomes predictable – I would like it to be said of me that I habitually paused to be thankful.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” ~ I Samuel 7:12
Ebenezer Stone or “Stone of Help” – is an altar of remembrance. A place marked in time and geography that says God has helped us. I think of the hymn Come Thou Fount, and the line “Hither by Thy help I come”. Hither meaning up until this point. When Robert Robinson wrote this in 1758 I can imagine he was resting and reflecting on what God had done in his life so far.
“Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day. ..“When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’ ~ Joshua 4:9, 21-22
Remember what God has done. Here are three possible ways to do this:
The Prayer of Examen is the first way to Remember and show Gratitude.
The Prayer of Examen is a Sabbath Liturgy of Remembering.
“…review your days at the end of each and…ask two simple questions: Where did I feel most alive, most hopeful, most in the presence of God? And where did I feel most dead, most despairing, farthest from God?… Try this. At day’s end…Quiet yourself. Reflect on the day.” ~ Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God, Restoring Your Soul By Restoring Sabbath, p. 201
“Prayer of Examen is retelling the story of God today. It is the practice of noticing.” Gail Johnsen, Keeping Company with Jesus
Ultimately, when we have gone back over a day and noticed what was with God and without God we come to confession and then resolution to live our lives more fully aware of His Presence.
Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. ~ II Corinthians 13:5
Keeping a Gratitude Journal is a second way to Remember and show Gratitude.
A gratitude journal is similar to the Prayer of Examen. It is writing down what you have noticed you are thankful for each day, where you have witnessed God and perhaps where you have missed His interaction.
- Keep your Gratitude Journal and a pen readily available.
- Write three things you’re grateful for each night before bedtime, include anything, however small or great, that was a source of gratitude that day.
- Personalize the gratitude journal, adding photos, quotes or verses.
- When you find it hard to write something new, flip back a few pages and remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for.
“There is always something to be thankful for.”
Praying a Benediction is a third way to Remember and show Gratitude.
A benediction is simply praying your gratitude list.
“Training for Gratitude…A Benediction was good words…The Hebrew term for gratitude is hikarat hatov, which means, literally, ‘recognizing the good’…pray your own benedictions – brief statements that recognize the good that comes from God.” ~ John Ortberg, Soul Keeping, Caring for The Most Important Part of You, p.173-175
Blessed art Thou o Lord our God who has given me…
…this new day…my children…a warm home…friendship…redemption…enough…
“…you can take time each day to remember the benefits you received, see your benefactor, and thank Him for His Benefits. As Thornton Wilder put it, ‘We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.’” ~ John Ortberg, Soul Keeping P. 176
The seemingly tiresome Rinsing and Repeating restores our souls!
Remember to pause long enough to examine your day, to notice the good, to list your benefits and to bless God from whom all blessings flow.
How would you finish this prayer of remembrance? Blessed art Thou o Lord our God who has given me…