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The Magic of Memorials

August 7th, 2008

Focus Text: Mark 14: 9 (NKJV)

Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

My morning began early for several reasons.  The first one is that I actually set my alarm for an early rising. However, when the alluring sounds of the iPhone began their sunrise serenade, I considered for a moment pushing the snooze button and allowing the backs of my eyelids to continue their entertainment.  The second reason, however, was beyond my control.  My roommate in this hotel for the week apparently had a dry mouth as he slept and began making clicking and snapping noises with his tongue and lips (in addition to a large amount of various nasal passage clearing techniques.)  Yep, I was up . . . just like I had planned it.

My objective for the early rise was to take a run in the city.  I guess you could say that I had an aspiration for respiration (crickets.)  Moving on.  I set out to run through the city streets of downtown Charlotte, a place that I’m fairly unfamiliar with.  Running through the various roads and intersections, I came across a very well-maintained and obviously old park area.  At a closer glance, I realized that there was actually a cemetery within the square with sidewalks crisscrossing across it.  So, I ran through it.

No, you should know that I love cemeteries; not in a creepy way– I love the history.  I’m astounded every time I gaze upon a headstone whose lettering is weathered and faded and I find the date of the death of the person who lies beneath it.  1803.  1798.  1815.  Wow!  Just imagine that this particular site has remained unmoved and relatively untouched for two-hundred years or more.  Cemeteries preserve historic monuments in a way that is incomparable to other methods.

As I ran, I began to think about longevity of the memory of those people.  I thought about who else had passed by those gravestones and glanced down at the name inscribed.  Presidents.  Dignitaries.  Family members. Civil war soldiers.  There’s no telling who has reviewed the information carved on these memorials.

Memorials are important because they preserve the value of a moment.  Without them, it is inevitable that events of importance will fade as quickly as the setting sun.  However, a permanent marker that reminds us of what happened provides a tangible point of contact that will “jog” our recollection.  We all need these moments.

But death isn’t necessary to build a lasting memorial; this was proven by another moment in my day.  The younger group of my two large group human video teams was about to perform their video in front of hundreds of people.  More than just their nervousness or my own anxiousness for their success, I recognized that this moment in time would never pass by us again.  Therefore, I had my leaders bring them outside to a spot I had picked out.

This spot was positioned beside another war memorial that stood just outside the convention center.  It was there that I told this young team a short story about another “young” team that I had led to this same convention some five years ago.  Those students are now my seniors, or in many cases, have actually graduated and moved on to other stages of life.  One of our fondest memories of that first Fine Arts year in Austin, Texas was an afternoon when no areas to practice were available, so we went out on the elevated concrete deck area of the convention center and practiced in the 105 degree heat.  

Though seemingly a bad idea, for whatever reason our students fondly refer back to that moment all the time.  I don’t know, maybe the sun left grill marks on their brains.  Nevertheless, as we practiced and then prayed on that smoldering concrete, our hearts were melted together for years to come.  That moment is a memorial for each of us who were there that day.

Hence, beside another memorial and standing on the cusp of their big moment, I encouraged the younger students to embrace their “moment in the sun” just as their predecessors had done five years previously. So, we practiced and we prayed and we soaked in the memories and that became another memorial– another reference point for our future growth.

Mark 14 records another memorial moment.  In this case, Mary has just poured a fortune of costly perfume upon the feet of Jesus.  Out of all the miraculous events that surrounded Jesus, do you really think that this one should have made the list?  Ah, but consider the nature of the situation.  Perfume of this sort would have permeated the air around Jesus for days, if not weeks after the initial pouring.  That means, they were smelling Mary’s perfume in the upper room.  In the garden.  As the soldiers whipped Jesus mercilessly.  As He hung on the cross.  As He appeared to the disciples.  In essence, Mary’s actions created an instant, noticeable memorial to her.

That’s what our lives should be about: capturing moments that will change the “air” around us for years to come.  Where are you today?  Will the first lasting memorial that you leave be a headstone?  Or will embrace the moment you have today in the blistering heat of this life and lavish your treasure upon Jesus?  I want my life to be a memorial that honors Him for eternity.

Hey, you never know who may be running by!



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