Memorial Day

Memorial Day

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Emmanuel Christian Church


INTRODUCTION: The date was May 30th, 1868. The place was Arlington National Cemetery. The occasion was the first official observance of “Decoration Day” - what since 1971 has been called “Memorial Day”. The original purpose was to tend the graves of our country’s Civil War dead, and to remember their sacrifice that painfully assured the future life of our nation while accomplishing the demise of our national flirtation with the evil practice of human trafficking in the form of slavery. The speaker for the observance that day was a Christian Church preacher from the Mahoning Valley who had served as a General in the War and now was a member of the House of Representatives. Thirteen years later, he would become the 20th President of the United States. His name was James A. Garfield, and this is some of what he said that day… “I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung. With words we make promises, (pledge) faith, praise virtue. Promises may not be kept; (pledged) faith may be broken; and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” PROPOSITION: Memorial Day is about taking the time to remember and reflect on what’s most important. So, let’s take that time right now to consider… The Importance of Memorial Day

  • Why is Memorial Day so important? It helps us to remember two serious realities of life which are: DEATH and WAR.
  • Death
  • Memorial Day brings to my mind the picture of a well- groomed cemetery marked by American flags- each one representing a life given in the service of our nation.
  • That picture is a challenge to us because we’d rather think about LIFE- not death. I think that’s the reason why so many people immediately equate Memorial Day with picnics and the start of Summer- they make us think about life, NOT death. APPLICATION: Here’s a great irony- only when we consider the end of our life, do we really begin to LIVE our life! Memorial Day’s reminder of death helps us to appreciate the preciousness of life. King David prayed to God: “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.” Psalms 39:4 Our lives on earth are VERY brief. Don’t waste time doing anything that is outside, or in opposition to, God’s will for your life. 20 years ago, Joe Johnson and I were given the task of notifying a family of the death of their soldier son, Specialist Jonathan Roy Kephart. What I am about to read is account of that moment as told by his father Burton Kephart. Friday, April 9, 2004 9:00AM Knowing that the Army would come to give us official notification of Jonathan's death, I spent the morning watching for their arrival. At 9:00 A.M. sharp, a vehicle arrived at our house. Out of the vehicle stepped a uniformed army sergeant and a man dressed in civilian clothes. This was Sgt. Johnson from the 298th in Franklin, PA, and the pastor of his church. From inside the house I watched them cross the street and walk up onto the porch. I heard their steps on the porch as they made their way to the front door. Before they knocked, I opened the door, greeted them, and introduced myself. I told them I was expecting them and already knew why they had come. Once again, we see God's hand of blessing. Had we not been informed the night before, Donna would have been at home alone that morning to receive the news. I invited the men in and we talked. I don't remember their words exactly, but it was now official. There was no mistake. Jonathan had been killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom only ten short days after arriving in Iraq. He was killed fighting in a war he strongly believed was right. According to Jonathan’s dad that morning, his son was in the Army, in Iraq because he was pursuing God’s will for his life. As short as his time on earth might have been- Jonathan was unwilling to waste a moment of it. Yes, Memorial Day reminds us of the realities of…
  • War
  • War is always horrific. The flag marked graves serve to remind us.
  • We need to pause and recall the fear of those parents of sons, who during the days of the draft, received a letter beginning with the words “Greetings From The President of the United States…”
  • We need to pause and recall (with sympathy and respect) the scene when those same parents received a telegram with the words “We sincerely regret to inform you…” APPLICATION: Memorial Day’s reminder of war helps us to appreciate the fact that this present world is in need of God’s redemption, and that this present life is a difficult journey.
  • Our nation’s war-fallen dead have walked one of life’s MOST difficult paths. They did it so that we wouldn’t have to.
  • So, when you’re cooking your hamburgers or watching the kids play in the backyard this weekend- just remember that these blessings have been purchased by the blood of a lot of young men. John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” APPLICATION: I thank God for those who have gone before us- filling up these words of Christ. Now, let’s shift our attention to… The Importance of the “Christian Memorial Day”
  • Every Sunday is a “Memorial Day” for us as Christians.
  • Our “Christian Memorial Day” takes place every time we heed God’s call to gather around the Lord’s Table.
  • Listen to then Apostle Paul’s description as he writes to the Corinthian Christians: 1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
  • Like our national Memorial Day, our Christian “Memorial Day” reminds us of DEATH.
  • We re-hear the words of Christ on the eve of His crucifixion as He spoke of a new covenant between God and man- a covenant drawn in His own precious blood.
  • We see the emblems of the bread and the cup that bring us back to the Cross where Jesus blood was shed and His body torn until He DIED.
  • We are reminded that His death was not for crimes He had committed, but rather the result of HIS desire to pay the price for our own sin.
  • Our Christian “Memorial Day reminds us of WAR.
  • When Jesus died, He went to war on OUR behalf AGAINST the forces of evil and Satan- forces that had our destruction as their goal.
  • BUT, Scripture tells us that Jesus won that battle when He rose from the grave on the third day. APPLICATION: Our time at the Lord’s Table is nothing less than a weekly reminder of the God of Creation who came in the form of a young man to offer his own blood in battle against the forces of evil- that we might be spared the torments of the second death. CONCLUSION: In the midst of enjoying the blessing God has poured into our lives this Memorial Day weekend, let’s time to thank Him for those who have sacrificed on our behalf- from that unknown soldier in Arlington’s Tomb, to His own precious Son whose tomb is empty. As we have received, let’s consider how we might now “pay forward” our debt of gratitude to both God and our fellow man.