Remember those now gone, but don’t linger too long in the cemetery! Memorial Day was once called Decoration Day. It began in the United States after the Civil War as a day to visit the cemeteries to decorate the graves of those who lost their lives in that terrible conflict. After the first World War, the day’s focus widened to include a remembrance of all those fallen in war. Visiting a memorial to soldiers lost can be a powerfully moving experience. On several occasions, I have walked the length of the Vietnam memorial on the Mall in Washington, DC and each time, I find that black slab bearing 50,000 names evokes deep emotions, real tears for those who never came home.
We must never forget those who paid the ultimate price to defend our Nation. But, we cannot live in the cemetery with them! Their sacrifice is meaningless if we do not move on, living life in a way that honors them, cherishing freedom, insisting on the protection of liberty, and demanding that our government maintains the principles of our Constitution!
Christians understand the powerful encouragement of remembering. On the night before He went to the Cross, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, the Communion meal that Christians have celebrated for two millennia. The cup reminds us of His shed blood which sets us right with our Father, providing complete forgiveness of our sins. The bread reminds us of His broken body, that He is our Wounded Healer. The Bible’s familiar words are: “On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people-an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, NLT)
Disciple, we don’t live in the cemetery! We remember the Cross, but we live on the other side of the Resurrection. His death brought us life! That is the amazing fact we remember at the Lord’s Table. “Walk worthy!” is the command we hear. Take the gift of the sacrifice and make it count in your day to day choices.
This Memorial Day, I hope you will remember, perhaps even walking through a cemetery where flags decorate the graves of those who died in the armed services of our great nation. Then, I pray you will leave the cemetery inspired to be a citizen who makes their sacrifice meaningful.
Make this a prayer for our nation today.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain.
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain.
America, America! God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
O beautiful for heroes proved
in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life.
America, America, may God thy gold refine,
‘Till all success be nobleness
And ev’ry gain divine.
Katharine Lee Bates | Samuel Augustus Ward
© Words: Public Domain