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 Sermon; Memorial Day 2017
Deuteronomy 10: 12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
Deuteronomy 10: 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.
Memorial Day is upon us. For most men and women in our country. Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. It is a time for an awesome old-fashioned parade down Main Street in Small Town, USA. It is frustratingly slow traffic on the way to the beach. It is a time to prepare the backyard pool, warm up the grill, and invite family and friends over for a good old-fashioned BBQ. For younger folks, school is almost over for the summer. Seniors will soon be graduating. Maybe they would rather spend Memorial Day partying by the beach.
For me, Memorial Day is still about family and friends, but it is also about us, and by “us” I mean the USA.
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 has lost the connection with the intent and purpose of the holiday, which is about remembering and honoring those who lost their lives on the field of battle.
I think that collectively we understand Memorial Day in terms of “communal fun,” whereas it was intended to be set aside, to be kept holy, as a Holy Day of communal remembrance. I understand and appreciate the opportunities this day brings to all of us to get together with our friends and family to enjoy each other’s company, but these gatherings, picnics, and parties are secondary to recognizing the sacrifice and heroism of those who have gone before us, paving the way for liberty and freedom (including religious). That is why standing together in prayer and remembrance should take precedence to anything else as we observe Memorial Day.
As I grow older, I cannot help but learn new things, and glean new understandings from my experiences.
Memorial Day reminds me that our blessings are the result of the actions of countless veterans and citizens who placed duty, honor, and commitment ahead of apathy, pride, and security. They chose to enter into unfriendly and uncompromising environments and, despite risks, persevered to the end. The rewards of their efforts have gone on to shape our country – past, present, and future.
Jesus told his apostles that He was going ahead of them to prepare a place (John 14:2). In many respects, that is what many of our veterans have done. They have helped prepare and secure a way of life for us that is beyond comprehension and envied by most of the world today. Christ paved the way through His Passion and Death; the ultimate price for our salvation. Those who heeded his words, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13), are a testimony to this very form of sacrifice. Our Creator who knows us better than we know ourselves has inspired numerous men and women throughout our nation’s history to answer the call to serve.
They were called to commit their minds, hearts, and every fiber of their beings to endure harsh surroundings and challenging ordeals. Their gift of service gave way to the legacy that we enjoy today.
In 23 BC, a few years before Jesus was born, Latin philosopher Horace wrote, “Carpe diem.” It translates as “Seize the Day!”
By contrast, Jesus came teaching that everything we do, we do with the understanding that we are building a better future for tomorrow. The memory of soldiers who gave their lives cries out for us to Seize Tomorrow, to use the gift of today, to build our tomorrows.
On Memorial Day 2009, President Obama said of those who died in service to our country, “They, and we, are the legacies of an unbroken chain of proud men and women who served their country with honor, who waged war so that we might know peace, who braved hardship so that we might know opportunity, who paid the ultimate price so that we might know freedom.”
On Memorial Day 1982 President Ronald Reagan said of those who died in service to our country: “Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we—in a less final, less heroic way—be willing to give of ourselves.”
So, this Memorial Day, enjoy the pool. Enjoy the beach trip. Celebrate the fact that the school year is almost over and summer is right around the corner. Fire up that grill and have a BBQ. But, in all that take the time to remember the sons and daughter of our Nation, who for decades and decades, chose to offer their lives as a measure of their devotion to their country and to you. Don’t forget their sacrifice. Pray for the families left behind.
As we get ready to observe and to celebrate Memorial Day, I want to challenge you to live today and honor the sacrifices of our fallen soldiers by preparing to Seize Tomorrow!
May God bless all of us!
May God bless our community!
May God Bless our Country!
May you have a blessed and meaningful Memorial Day Weekend!