By Timothy Pigg
Pastor, Fellowship Church
Following the Civil War, Americans would gather at the tombs of the fallen soldiers to decorate them with flowers in order to show their appreciation and to demonstrate that they will never forget the sacrifice that was given. This first observance in May 1868 later came to be known as Decorations Day. It was not until 1971 that the name was changed from Decorations Day to Memorial Day. Now, on the last Monday of May, our country observes Memorial Day, a day where we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for defending the freedoms we hold so dear. Constitutional freedoms such as, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
As Christians, we should observe Memorial Day for at least two reasons:
Reason 1: Memorial Day Stewards Thankfulness
Throughout the New Testament, thankfulness and remembrance go together. For instance, Jesus, in the upper room, gave thanks and then proceeded to institute the Lord’s Supper, an ordinance of remembrance (Luke 22:19). Often, you can find Paul’s greeting connecting being thankful because of his remembrance of a particular congregation (Ephesians 1:16, Philippians 1:3, Colossians 1:3, 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, and Philemon 4). Therefore, today as we remember those who have given their lives, thankfulness is a biblical response that should overflow from our gratitude.
Reason 2: Memorial Day Stewards Evangelism
The ultimate sacrifice of a life for the sake of freedom did not come on the battlefields of the 18th, 19th, or 20th centuries, but rather on the hill called Calvary more than 2000 years ago. It is our Lord’s death, burial, and subsequent resurrection that brings freedom from our greatest foes: sin and death. In John 8:36, Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Paul would later say, “For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). Therefore, as you are around family, friends, and neighbors, you can use this time to point them to Jesus, and to share with them how Jesus gave His life so that they would not have to die because of their sins.
As you observe Memorial Day, may your heart be filled with thankfulness to God for those who have given their lives for the freedoms we share in America, and may you look for opportunities to share about the greatest sacrifice ever given, salvation. “For God so love the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).