Tomorrow is Memorial Day. And while this is an American holiday, it also has meaning for us as Christians. Our text for today was Exodus 12, verses 12-16. This passage tells about God's institution of the Jewish Passover festival. Verse 14 says “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance." Why did God require this yearly festival? As Reverend Singleton says, it's because he knows that we are a forgetful people.
Do you have a special way to remember things? I personally have a wall calendar, a to-do-list, a grocery list, a bulletin board, a small purse calendar, a sermon notebook, a password notebook, an address book, a collection of stick-it notes, and a contact list on my phone. Our church bulletin includes a prayer list, an order of service, a list of weekly and monthly events, and the contact information for both the church and the local food pantry. We need these things because without them, we would forget important events and information.
Well, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. We Americans enjoy a lot of freedoms that are hard to find in many parts of the world, and one of these freedoms is the freedom of religion, given in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. So on this day, it is right for our churches to remember those who fought to establish and keep our freedoms, regardless of how we feel about war in general, or any war in particular.
Christians have different views on whether it is right to fight, but not on whether it is right to pray. Whether you agree with war or not, and whether you know someone in the armed forces or not, these men and women are in harm's way. They are there to fight on our behalf, to keep our country free for us. They are children of God, as we all are, regardless of religion, and we need to lift them up to our Heavenly Father to protect and guide them in their duties.
Do you have friends or family members who are deployed? It is so easy to be afraid for them. Fear is a very human reaction to danger. But Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Our worry doesn't help anyone, but our prayers do.
Jesus came as a man, and he knows all about sacrificing for other people. Our servicemen and women are laying their lives on the line for our country, just as Jesus lay down his own life for the salvation of the world. In John 15:13, Jesus says " Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. "
And Jesus is waiting for us to call on him. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:34-37;
Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall 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:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
So this weekend, as you enjoy your barbecue, remember why we celebrate. Take some time to remember those who have given their lives and their service in the past, as well as those who continue to serve. And don't forget to pray!