Memorial Day – to some it’s the beginning of summer and to others it’s a solemn day to remember those who have passed from this life. To the veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, Memorial Day carries a very deep significance. Memorial Day began after the Civil War and most people knew it as “Decoration Day.” It was a day to decorate the fallen soldiers graves with flowers and flags and remember those who had given their lives.
Christians, of all people, understand the crucial importance of remembering because our faith depends upon remembering. We can look forward to the glorious future because we remember the gracious past that was freely given to us. The freedoms we enjoy, the freedoms we take for granted were not bought with money. These freedoms were bought by the blood, sweat and tears of those who we honor today! Those who died so we may live!
This reminds me of 2,000 years ago when the ultimate sacrifice was made by Jesus on the cross. He died so we may live. This battle was not bought with money. This battle was fought on a hill called Calvary. It was a battle of one young man against all the forces of evil. It seemed hopeless as there were jeers, spitting and sneering. Then he said, “It is finished.” This freedom was bought by blood, sweat and tears.
We celebrate many memorials. The Sabbath was a memorial to Israel’s freedom from Egyptian slavery. Deuteronomy 5:15, "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day." The church made Sundays a memorial to Christ's resurrection and our freedom from sin. Exodus 13:3, "Then Moses said to the people, ‘Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast.’"
1 Corinthians 11:24-26, "...and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes." Each time a church gathers for the Lord's Supper, each baptism, each Christmas celebration, each Easter celebration and Pentecost it is a memorial. Remembering God's grace is necessary for us to grow.
Reminders, whether bitter or sweet, remind us where we’ve come from, and who helped us get to where we are. As we commemorate Memorial Day, let us do it with profound gratitude for the extraordinary grace given to us when men and women laid their lives down for the sake of America’s survival. These men and women served one another in love. Galatians 5:13, "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." They sacrificed their life for the sake of our freedom.
Let us continue to thank God for all of them. Let us share these Scriptures to honor those who serve and have served in the US military. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, "We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." We should respect and honor them. Romans 13:7, "Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
And above all. let us “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel,...” (2 Timothy 2:8)
I write this in honor of the service men and women, past and present, in my family and in yours. To all of them, from my heart, “thank you for your service!”