Memorial Day


I have a scar on my right hand. When I see that scar, I remember. The reminder, while scars are not always pleasant, takes me back to days in my youth ministry when I began learning that I couldn’t do things that I had done when I was part of the youth group and not the leader of it. You see, the scar is a memorial to a year at youth camp when I (as an old man of about 28 years) got out on the softball field with the teenagers. In my zeal to outrun the ball to first base, I tripped over the bag and flailed my way to the chain link fence and cut open my hand trying to stop the fall.

Truthfully, though the scar is a reminder to me of days spent working with a great group of teenagers, and introducing them to a life lived with and for Jesus.

This weekend, we in America celebrate Memorial Day. It is a time set aside to honor those who sacrificed their lives on battlefields in order to enjoy the freedoms that are part of our nation’s DNA. While we don’t want to park on thoughts of war and men giving their lives on battlefields, it is important to remember.

Memorials are set up for that reason: to remind those who see them of what has gone on before; to spur them on to thankfulness for the blessings in life; and possibly to encourage them to live the same kind of sacrificial lives for future generations.

Set up some memorials in your life today, and remember.

[Joshua] said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’”  —Joshua 4:21-22

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Remember. This weekend as our country takes a pause to remember those who have died in defense of our nation’s basic tenets, I think that is appropriate for us to remember.

Remember the ones who have fought for your freedom to worship today, and every week, as you love to do.

Remember those who taught you how to stand up and defend your rights and your faith.

Remember those who penned words that have been etched on every American’s heart for 240 years.

Don’t take for granted the service that has been rendered to us in order that we might live freely and honorably.

Remember also, the One who made it possible for us to become one body here in this place; the One who died for true freedom to be experienced by all men.

Perhaps Rudyard Kipling said it best in the refrain of “Recessional” which reminds readers to hearken their hearts and their minds to the God who directed the steps of mortal men “lest we forget, lest we forget.”

There are some who would argue that there is no place for this kind of patriotism in our worship, but I believe that when we remember the price Christ paid, we must also remember those men—martyrs of the faith as well as heroes of our liberty—who sacrificed that we might be free.

So, remember.

“All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us” (Hebrews 12:39-40)

Today I will let Rudyard Kipling speak a word of honor for me:

The American Spirit speaks:

To the Judge of Right and Wrong
With Whom fulfilment lies
Our purpose and our power belong,
Our faith and sacrifice.

Let Freedom’s land rejoice!
Our ancient bonds are riven;
Once more to use the eternal choice
Of Good or
Ill is given.

Not at a little cost,
Hardly by prayer or tears,
Shall we recover the road we lost
In the drugged and doubting years.

But, after the fires and the wrath,
But, after searching and pain,
His Mercy opens us a path
To live with ourselves again.

In the Gates of Death rejoice!
We see and hold the good—
Bear witness, Earth, we have made our choice
For Freedom’s brotherhood!

Then praise the Lord Most High
Whose Strength hath saved us whole,
Who bade us choose that the Flesh should die
And not the living Soul!

To the God in Man displayed—
Where’er we see that Birth,
Be love and understanding paid
As never yet on earth!

To the Spirit that moves in Man,
On Whom all worlds depend,
Be Glory since our world began
And service to the end!