As long as I can remember I have looked forward to Memorial Day weekend. Even if you don’t participate in a decoration day (previous title for this day), or a family reunion around this holiday, you at least look forward to an extra day on the weekend. Our celebration of Memorial Day, as a federal holiday, is meant to help us remember those who have died serving our country. It is always held on the last Monday in May.
If you know your history, then you know that Memorial Day originated after the Civil War to commemorate the soldiers from both sides that died on the battlefield. We continue to extend this holiday for all Americans who have died in military service. It’s more than just the mark of the beginning of the summer vacation season. It’s a day to focus on what we’ve lost and what we’ve gained in regards to our freedom in this country.
As you read through your Bible, you will see that God’s people have always observed yearly memorial services. In the Old Testament, the most famous was the Passover which aided in the remembrance the Exodus (Exodus 12, Deuteronomy 16). There were various fasts instituted, some were optional and others commanded, that were intended to memorialize an individual or a group of people. In the New Testament, the most famous memorial is the Lord’s Supper which aided in the remembrance of the death of Jesus on the cross (Matthew 26:26-29, Acts 2:42, I Corinthians 11:23-26).
Why is it important to remember those who have died? When we remember the death of others it does at least two things: 1) It encourages us to keep looking at our past, 2) It keeps us thinking about our own death. There is no doubt that death will come to us all. However, there are those who have died for a specific purpose. They fulfilled God’s plan for their life. Have you? Are you ready?
Take the Lord’s Supper as an example. Why did Jesus institute a communion that was intended to be observed on the first day of every week by His followers? He does not want us to forget what He has done, nor what impact it should make on our lives. And to make sure that we never forget, what did Jesus do? He promised: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).
God has sent His Holy Spirit into this world to help us remember Him! The Holy Spirit of God has come to teach us and guide us into all truth (John 16:13). Often times we need a memorial stone or some kind of commemorative decoration to remind us of things that must not be forgotten. God has inserted His Spirit into His people so that we don’t need stones or decorations. We possess a greater adornment (I John 4:4). And His Holy Word can guide us toward the right path (II Timothy 3:16-17, II Peter 1:19-21).
Have a safe Memorial Day weekend. Don’t forget those who have laid down their lives for our nation. And especially don’t forget the One who died to save our souls!
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds
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