Joshua 4:1-3, 6-7

When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua: “Select twelve men from the people, one from each tribe, and command them, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan from the place where the priests’ feet stood, carry them over with you, and lay them down.” […] When your children ask in time to come. ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

The Cairn

I have probably heard this passage of scripture read out loud more than any other. Why this one you might ask? For every week for four summers I was a counselor at a Lutheran summer camp in Pennsylvania, Camp Nawakwa. And every week the entire camp gathered to hear Joshua 4 read aloud. We gathered around a pile of rocks at the heart of the camp, a cairn.

The Israelites were finishing their 40 year journey in the wilderness. They crossed the Jordan under the direction of their leader Joshua and were entering the Promised Land. To mark the end of their journey and God’s faithfulness to them on that journey they erected their own cairn, a pile of 12 rocks, one for each of the 12 tribes. Whenever they looked at that cairn they would always remember the journey and the God who brought them on that journey to a new home.

Over my years at camp our cairn grew and grew. It was not a pile of 12 stones, like the Israelites, but a pile made up of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of stones, a stone for every cabin group for every week of camp for every summer. And when we looked at that pile of stones, as we walked by it countless times during the week, as we gathered around it at the end of each week to add our stone to the pile, we remembered too. We remembered the journeys that we have had along the way. We remembered God’s role in our journeys, just like the Israelites did.

What journey is God leading you on? What do you have in your life that you can look upon and when people ask you in time to come what it all means you can say, this is where God has taken me in my life.

Pr. Daniel Joyner Miller