Monday, 3 October 2011

Memorial plaques

Gideon is a hero in the eyes of Israel. He has won an incredible and most unlikely victory and been Israel's shepherd and leader for a number of years. Yet his fame goes to his head because not content with the knowledge of pleasing the Lord, Gideon demands goes about making an ephod from gold - a lasting symbol of his achievements, and surprise surprise all Israel falls down before it worshipping the gold object and forgetting the Lord who won the victories in the first place.

Got me thinking though about memorials that occupy church buildings. Things that are put up or are given in memory of something with good intentions but become to quote Judges 8 'a snare to all the people'. A plaque marked on a certain chair, which binds the congregation from ever being creative with seating arrangements because one chair is 'my Ron's chair', or communion kneelers so inappropriate and uncomfortable for the congregation but cant be replaced because Ethel left them to the church... its surprisingly easy how these little mementos, or reminders of individuals end up becoming, well worshipped, to some degree or another and certainly restrict progress.

I wonder whether in a community where our giving should be so humble and quiet that one hand doesn't know what the other is doing, whether memorial stones/plaques are ever appropriate in churches? I feel not really, because however, unintentionally, people end up repeating the mistakes of the Israelites in Gideon's time. These things become a snare, even an idol and distract from the One who should be the focus of the communities worship and decision making.

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