These stones...


Reminders of God’s Faithfulness

In Joshua we read that God saved the Hebrew people by leading them through the Jordan River. They found themselves safely on the other side. The LORD then told their leader Joshua to instruct the leaders of the twelve tribes to pick up a stone each and carry it back to camp. Joshua used these twelve stones to create a memorial. We read, 


“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 4:6-7

These stones were a physical reminder of a spiritual moment. Every time their children saw them it acted like a prompt. The pile of stones created an opportunity for their family to talk together about the past and God’s faithfulness. 

What are your ‘stones’?
What is in your house, church or community that remind your children of God’s faithfulness? What stones could you add to your pile so that your children will know the stories of God’s faithfulness and pass them on to the next generation?? Here are a couple of simple suggestions:

Photos
Family photos: This might seem obvious, but family photos tell our story. They communicate our values. What photos can you display in your home to celebrate the faithfulness of God to your family? One example might be a photo of a family member at their baptism or serving at church. Take the opportunity to get your photo albums out and talk with your children about the people in the photos. Tell the stories of the generations who have gone before you, and how their faith shaped their lives; Great Grandma who put her faith into action calling for women in New Zealand to have the right to vote, Uncle Fred who would ring you every weekend when you were a teenager and ask you for things to pray for, that lovely old lady who lived next door who gave you your first Bible. 

Church photos: Every church has a story to tell. Displaying photos of your church’s history helps remind people of God’s faithfulness in the past. These might be photos of the building, but most importantly they can be photos of people. Bring out the photo albums during your children’s programme on a Sunday morning, and invite a few members of the older generation to talk about them. Share these photos on your church Facebook page. 

Symbols
Our homes, families and churches have symbols in them that act like the stones in Joshua’s account. 

Family symbols: This is a photo of my family nativity scene.The idea was for each family member to craft something from clay to contribute to the scene. Our scene includes the Christmas pig, a shark, and a shepherd with his baseball hat on backwards. In the middle of the chaos is baby Jesus, crafted by my young niece. This nativity may not be traditional, but it says something about my family: a touch of chaos, a little creative, all ages together, and making space in the centre for Jesus. And each year, when it is put on display we gather around it. We reminisce, laugh, point out who made each piece and how old they were at the time. It has become a treasured family heirloom. It reminds us of who we are. 

Your family will have symbols too. Maybe it’s a pair of shoes or a special picture book. Maybe it is the marks on a doorway to show each child’s height progression. Maybe it’s a family Bible. What symbols could you introduce into your house or family? Easter and Christmas are good opportunities to create a tradition. 


 
Church Symbols: Churches in the past were filled with symbols. For a congregation who mostly couldn’t read, the windows, walls and floors of the church told the story. This photo is a mosaic on the floor of a church foyer in Philippi. It is a map of Paul’s missionary journeys. Imagine the centuries of children who have played on that floor! Stained glass windows, a cross, the communion table, are all symbolic elements that seek to remind us of our faith journey. What symbols could you include in the space where your children’s programme runs? 

Stone Suggestions:
Here are some moments you might like to think about creating a 'stone' for: 
- First job
- First pay check 
- Birth
- Baptism 
- First day of school 
- First Communion 
- Bible 
- Drivers license 
- Mission trip 
- High-school graduation 

Think about developing an annual calendar for your family or church that marks these moments and includes details of how to celebrate each one. 

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