Connections 03.12.2023: In Remembrance

Exodus 16:33–17:7

In Exodus, there is a refrain: the Hebrew people are to tell their children what God did to save them from slavery in Egypt. Exodus 13:8 says: “You shall tell your child on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.” From the time of the exodus people have told God’s story not only with words but with symbols and actions; Jewish people still celebrate the Passover with unleavened bread (Ex 12:17) as a “perpetual ordinance.”

But the exodus isn’t the only thing the people are supposed to remember. After Egypt, God’s people spent forty years in the wilderness as God led them to the promised land. At times in those desert years the people were so hungry and thirsty that the bad old days in Egypt started looking pretty good. Still, in the wilderness, in spite of their grousing, God provided for them. The surprising (if not necessarily appetizing) provision of manna kept them nourished for as long as their journey lasted, and God commanded Moses to save a portion of manna and to place it next to the ark of the covenant “to be kept throughout the generations.” Keeping the manna front and center keeps the story of God’s care front and center, not only for the wilderness wanderers but for their children.

When I was in seminary, a guest speaker (author Wendy Wright) began her presentation by placing a box on a table. In silence she took a folded cloth from the box and spread it on the table, then thoughtfully took one everyday item after another out of the box and placed each one on the cloth. I don’t remember exactly what the items were, only that they were normal, unremarkable pieces of real life: a child’s toy, a dish, a photograph. When the box was empty, she stepped back and told us the personal and family stories behind each item, including the cloth. These were not just “things.” She had created an altar of remembrance, and each item she displayed was a piece of her testimony, her witness to God’s provision and care through everyday moments and difficult journeys. Surprisingly simple things kept the stories of God’s presence and care front and center for her; and when she shared her stories she invited us to share in her experience of who God still is and how God still works.

Telling the stories of what God has done is not just “good old days” nostalgia for something that happened once upon a time. Remembering and retelling and even reenacting God’s story with symbols and actions is a way we witness to who God still is, here and now. When we keep the images of God’s care front and center to remember God’s saving actions in the past, we also proclaim God’s saving work in our lives today.


  • Even after Moses and Aaron kept the manna to remind the people of God’s provision, the people still grumbled and complained. How does your time in worship or with your church family help you to remember God’s care on the days when you are “out in the world”? Realistically and honestly, do you find yourself grumbling and complaining about life’s frustrations and struggles in-between times of worship?
  • How can you “keep” the stories and symbols of God’s care in your line of sight so you can remember and experience God’s presence more fully?
  • What personal or family stories or symbols remind you of God’s ongoing presence and care?
  • As Christians, we celebrate communion or the Lord’s Supper. We do this “in remembrance of” Jesus Christ, but not only as a re-creation of something that happened once upon a time. When we remember Christ in communion, we proclaim God’s saving grace for us today. How does the symbol and action of communion help you to consider the link between remembering the past and experiencing God in the present?
  • Do you ever feel wistful for “good old days” (even if those days were not really all that good) rather than looking for God’s goodness in the world around you here and now?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at


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