Thoughts for Memorial Day

In the United States of America, next Monday we will celebrate Memorial Day. It is a time when we remember those who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. We also honor those currently in our military.

Let’s take time to look at a few scriptures and make some comparisons of how the goals of our military men and women follow Christ’s example.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Out of love, God sent His Son to our world. Jesus sacrificed His life so that we, through faith, may receive the gift of eternal life. No one can do what God did. No one needs to do what God did because Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice.

However, there are several similarities between God and the people in our military. Our armed forces defend all of humanity – not only United States citizens. They serve out of love for people around the world. They fight for freedom for people who are treated inhumanely. These soldiers are willing to die so others can live. There is also a sacrifice paid by the families of our active military men and women. Parents and spouses of military personnel allow their family members to go around the world defending those whose lives are in danger. There is a high price to be paid.

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:36

Jesus lived and died for freedom. Freedom is the cause for which individuals choose to serve in our armed forces. Jesus died to set us free from sin. Those in the United States military are willing to die so that our citizens may live free from tyranny and terrorism.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13

Jesus loves us. He laid down His life for us. We are His friends. Military men and women love their country. They are willing to lay down their lives. They are our friends, not enemies.

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10

Jesus spoke these words when teaching His disciples how to pray. Their prayer was that God’s kingdom would reign on earth and His will would be done. The members of the United States armed forces serve their country defending their nation and the Constitution upon which the government is based. They serve their nation (or kingdom) and strive to fulfill the country’s goals (or will).

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine
or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:
But in all these things we more than conquerors
through Him who loved us.
Romans 8:35-37

Paul acknowledges that we will encounter suffering. He lists several forms of suffering. However, he also assures us that nothing will separate us from Christ’s love. We are more than conquerors and we will obtain more than ordinary victories. Christ’s love triumphed over death. And, because of His love, we achieve abundant victories.

Paul’s words also offer assurance to our military personnel. If these men and women find themselves in harm’s way, they will face danger. If involved in combat, death will be a possibility. At these times, may our soldiers be aware of Christ’s presence. May they fight for freedom with faith. They are more than just conquerors.

In conclusion, I emphasize the importance of scripture being the foundation for our lives. I give thanks to Jesus for setting an example. I also thank members of our military for following the example of Christ. May Memorial Day be a time for us to honor these men and women of the United States of America for their sacrifices for freedom.

MEMORIAL DAY: i remember

oklahoma(Reader: I wrote today’s blog a week before I planned to post it and now I feel like I need to add a preface to what I want to share.  i remember has additional meaning for me since the tornado hit the Oklahoma area, especially the town of Moore,  this past Monday. Reader, you and I need to remember to pray for the people who have lost family members and homes and so much more.  The one thing they have not lost is their faith in God and their ability to help each other.  As Memorial Day arrives in Oklahoma, many people will be saying i remember with their own personal stories.  May “i remember” not only be a phrase but an action for each of us regarding those affected by this natural disaster.  May each of us say i remember with the people of Oklahoma today, Monday and many days to follow.  Now, the following is what I wrote for this week.)

MEMORIAL DAY:  i remember observing this day as a child much differently than we celebrate it today.  We were up early in the morning so we could get to the cemetery to put flowers on the graves of loved ones before the special Memorial Day Service was held in the cemetery.  With flowers and wreaths on most gravesites and small flags waving in the breeze over the graves of military men and women, the cemetery was a beautiful sight.  When I was in the school band, we always marched from the high school auditorium, through the town, and up to the cemetery.  We would march to the beat of the drums until we entered the cemetery grounds and then the drummers would only keep beat by quietly tapping their sticks on the rim of their drums.  It was a solemn and sacred ceremony.   As a band, we played such songs as “Nearer My God to Thee.”  Names were read of all those who had served in the military and were now buried in this particular cemetery.  One of the pastors of a local church gave a message, the Gettysburg Address was spoken,  and taps were played by a trumpeter. During the rest of the day, other relatives who had come to place flowers on the graves of their family members might stop by our home to visit.  It was a day of remembering not only military heroes but also family members who had died.

Memorial Day (MF)MEMORIAL DAY:  i remember this day historically as being a day set aside to honor those who died serving in the United States Armed Forces.  According to Wikipedia, Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War.  It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead.  After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women who died in any war or military action. This holiday was originally known as Decoration Day and the current name did not come into use until after World War II. This commemoration used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week, until 1968.  Personally, I do not want to forget the true meaning of this day nor do I want to forget the lives that have been lost for the freedom of the United States of America!

communionMEMORIAL DAY:  i remember another life and sacrifice as I reflect upon the meaning of the holiday we will celebrate on Monday.  The life I am referring to is the life of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice I am referring to is Jesus dying upon the cross for the forgiveness of oursins making it possible for you and me to have everlasting life.  Luke 22 records the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples before His crucifixion and the meaning he gave to the bread and the wine at this Passover meal.  Luke 22:19-20 says, “And He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’  Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.’”  This is the way Jesus wants me to remember His purpose of coming to earth, and He wants me to do this as a memorial. However, these words are not only for Memorial Day, but anytime that I celebrate communion with the body of Christ.

 MEMORIAL DAY:  i remember these solemn and sacred ways of remembering memories.  It saddens me to see how selfish I and our nation have become towards the observance of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, as it was formerly known.  Yes, it should be a federal holiday because it is a time for our nation to honor the living and the dead of our military forces.  However, Memorial Day has become less of an occasion of remembrance and more of a reason to have picnics and do outside projects. The fact that the date of observance has been changed to the last Monday of the month and not on the day of May 30 shows that we are more concerned about the convenience of a long weekend off from work or school than a day to give thanks for those who have put their lives in harms way to protect us and our nation.  It also saddens me as to how complacent our nation has become towards what Jesus has done for us personally and as a nation.  If we believe what we say in our Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag that we are “one nation, under God,” then we need to remember what God has done for us and allow Him to still lead our nation.

So, my Reader, how are you going to celebrate Memorial Day, May 27, 2013?  I hope you will take time to remember the true meaning of this day.  Remember the lives that were lost for you and our nation.  Remember the lives of loved ones who have gone before you and have set an example for how we are to live our lives today. Remember the best example set forth through the life of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He gave so that you and I can live not only today but eternally.

Happy Memorial Day!golden apple #2(MF)