By The Rev. Michael Hoffman, St. Peter's Episcopal Church
Christians should be good at celebrating Memorial Day. Not because we are a ‘Christian nation’ (I believe too strongly in our constitution and the separation of church and state to be comfortable with that phrase, although our great nation has been built and molded by faithful followers of Christ since its founding), but because we are followers of Jesus.
If Memorial Day is a day where we remember those who have sacrificed for America, then that is right in our wheelhouse. For as a people, Christians are called to remember, and we know the significance of sacrifice.
The Old Testament is chalked full of commands from God to remember His mighty works. Jews were to remember what God has done and pass it on to the next generation. That is what the Passover is all about, remembering the story of God’s deliverance. Jesus carries on this theme. He wants his followers to remember what he has done and share that Good News with the world. At the Last Supper, Jesus broke bread and shared a cup of wine and asked his disciples to continue to do this ‘in remembrance of me’. For 2,000 years, Christians have remembered and continue to tell the story of salvation.
We are a people who understand sacrifice. Jesus once said, “there is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”(John 15:13). We believe true love is sacrifice, to put someone else’s needs and wants before your own. For believers, the ultimate act of this sacrificial love is the cross, where Jesus died so that others might live. Followers of Jesus know what it means to sacrifice.
So if we understand the need to remember and the meaning of sacrifice, we should understand the need to celebrate Memorial Day. For, we must continue to remember the sacrifice of the men and women who have protected and served our nation. We must remember their loss, their blood, their life, and their death. We must put their sacrifice ever before the eyes of our nation lest we forget that freedom is not free; it has been bought with the lives of those willing to sacrifice everything for the people of the United States of America.
So fellow members of the Body of Christ, this memorial day, let us remember. Let us remember those brave souls who died in the service of our country. Let us remember the families who waited for soldiers who never came home. Let us remember the young men and women in the armed services who are currently risking their lives for us. This Memorial Day, let us remember their sacrifice.