God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; Memorial Day Sunday; May 29, 2016
Scriptures for this Sunday are: Isaiah 54:10, 13-15
You can read these Scriptures here: (NIV2010 and ESV}
“A Jewish rabbi, a Christian pastor, a Muslim imam and a Buddhist monk went into…” That sounds like the opening of a bad joke.
I want to repeat that sentence again, and this time I want to finish it. “A Jewish rabbi, a Christian pastor, a Muslim imam and a Buddhist monk entered into the chapel of an Air Force base.”
The phrase “melting pot” has a special meaning in our culture; as a first generation immigrant and a naturalized citizen of the United States of America, I know that meaning first-hand. Every aspect of our society reflects the fact that we are a melting pot, and our armed forces are not an exception. We have men and women of all religious and cultural beliefs and convictions working together as one unit to protect and defend our country.
Unfortunately, that means that sometimes a representative of the Armed Forces has to visit a family somewhere in the United States of America, look them in the eye and tell them, “The Secretary of the Army regrets to inform you that your husband/son/daughter died of wounds sustained in the field of battle…”
And then a Jewish rabbi, or a Christian pastor, or a Muslim imam or a Buddhist monk in uniform has to visit this family, look them in the eye and share their pain and grief at the terrible realization that they will never again hear their loved one’s voice or have a chance to hug them this side of eternity.
Our country has set aside Memorial Day as a day to remember our fallen heroes and their sacrifices, and to reflect on the values and ideals that give us our identity as citizens of the United States of America.
As a naturalized citizen of the United States of America, I am frustrated by the way we celebrate Memorial Day. It seems to have lost its meaning. For the most part what we do and how we celebrate this day have lost their connection with the intent and purpose of the holiday.
For many of us, the Memorial Day weekend is the official kick‑off to summer. Whether it is extra-long hours at the beach, or a “freebie” night to fire up the BBQ to cook shish-kabobs and socialize with friends and relatives, it has become just that – an extra day off of work. Boscov’s and JC Penney want to make sure that I am properly attired in swim trunks imprinted with the stars and stripes for the summer. That stands in stark contrast with the intent of what Memorial Day is meant to be: a time of reflection on the people, ideals, customs and traditions that give us our national identity, and the memory of those who have fought and died to preserve them.
President John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Memorial Day represents certain convictions that all of us profess to share. In the next year, I want to challenge all of us to not only express our highest appreciation for what fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and neighbors have done for all of us, but to live that appreciation. My hope is that we will leave today’s worship service challenged and inspired to reach out to those for whom Memorial Day has become just a day off work and the beginning of summer, and remind them of what Memorial Day truly is about.
Memorial Day is a day filled and infused with meaning and traditions. Cities and towns across our nation organize and host Memorial Day parades, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Many of our fellow citizens visit cemeteries and memorials to pay respect to their friends and relatives who died while serving in the armed forces.
I think of Memorial Day as a Holy Day to reflect on the source of our hope in the midst of difficult circumstances. While the prophet Isaiah recognized the transitory nature of all life, he also taught about the enduring presence of God and envisioned a time when swords and spears would be turned into plowshares and pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4). Isaiah wrote, “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall … The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:6-8, NIV2010).
The truth is that most of us do not know what it feels like to feed fleas and lice while we try to survive in the trenches. The truth is that most of us do not know what it feels like to be shot at or to be engaged in hand-to-hand combat. The truth is that most of us have never experienced the rush of adrenaline and the emotional highs and lows that come with facing the enemy. The truth is that most of us do not know the emotional lows over the loss of friends in combat because most of us have never been in combat. Those who have faced the enemy on the field of battle know and understand the sacrifice of those who perished.
As we honor and remember our fallen soldiers, may we continue to keep the dream alive of a day when it will no longer be necessary to build memorials to those killed in battle, and that day will come when there will be no more wars.
As we honor and remember our fallen soldiers, my hope is that God’s peace and justice will prevail, and that no Jewish rabbi, nor Christian pastor, nor Muslim imam nor Buddhist monk will have to face a grieving family whose loved one is no more.
God Bless the USA!