Sunday, May 27, 2012

Seeing Jesus in Memorial Day

For many of us Memorial Day is special because it marks the official kickoff to the summer season. The days are longer, the temps get hotter and to the joyful relief of many teachers, the school year finally winds to a close. Well, I'm ashamed to admit that this is primarily all its meant for me, but this year it's a bit different. A few weeks ago, I attended a conference in Washington DC and during one of the breaks I got a chance to jog around the National Mall. When I got to the Korean War Memorial I was so moved at what I saw.

It seems like the two major wars before and after this one receives more notoriety - one was very unpopular and the other involved the entire world with a clear enemy but the Korean War often seems to get lost in the shuffle. But the fact is many Americans died to secure freedom for me and my family in this often forgotten war - soldiers we "never knew" and "never met" and who had no vested interest in sacrificing their very lives and yet who were faithful in answering the call - even unto death. They will always hold a special place in my heart and they deserve to be honored.

God was big on memorials and memorial days. All throughout the Old Testament there are specific instructions for special feast days (Exodus 12:14), stone edifices (Joshua 4:1) and memorial offerings (Psalm 38:1) all instituted by God so that the people might remember what the Lord had done. This wasn't for Him as much as it was for us. He knows how prone we are to forget.

And when Jesus arrives centuries later, immediately before he offers up his own life he institutes his own "memorial" of sorts. Something the Church regularly practices today:
"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." -Luke 22:19
In the same way that Memorial Day is a national holiday set aside to remember and honor those that have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy in this great country, the communion is an ordinance that we practice to remember and honor the One who sacrificed his life for the freedom that we enjoy from sin and death. But communion isn't just about looking back - it's also about looking forward.
"I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." -Matthew 26:29
Communion also looks squarely to the future and the promise is that the next time Jesus drinks from the cup it will be with us in His Father's kingdom. What a glorious day that will be. Godspeed the day.

In His Grace,

Peter & Kim

1 comment:

  1. Here in England, they take Remembrance Day very seriously. At our church, they dedicate a large part of the service to pray, hold moments of silence and remember those soldiers who fell to war. Everywhere in the community you'll see services being held in the streets as well. We were moved and like you said, made us reflect upon the sacrifice of Christ. Thanks for this blessed post.