My father-in-law talked this weekend about his plans for his burial. He wants to have a grave marker, even though he and his wife will have a cremation. He wants the marker because he has developed a passion for geneaology. He has spent hours and hours and traveled hundreds of miles to track down his own family history. He wants the marker on his grave because some day, many generations from now, he wants one of his descendants to be able to find his own history written in stone.
This conversation comes to my mind as I read the passage from Isaiah this week. Family history matters. We often forget that the stories of Israel are our stories as well. They are the stories that gave rise to Jesus and explain Jesus.
I love verse 8. “Surely, they are my people,” God says, “children who will not deal falsely.”
The sense of irony and even bitter humor must have been palpable as Isaiah first uttered these words. It was in the shadow of ruin that he spoke. It is out the darkness of Israel’s faithlessness from which this memory comes forth. Israel has dealt falsely with God, and yet here still we tell the story of God’s favor and mercy.
And here I note that the story begins not with exile and rebellion and tragedy. The prayer does not begin with us, but with God.
Do we remember the mighty acts of God? Do we remember our family story? Do we know of the God who has lifted up and carried us from the days of old?