By Toni Ford
As we celebrate Memorial Day this week, I hope everyone took time to remember those who lost their lives by serving in the U.S. military. These men and women paid a great price to protect our civil and religious freedoms and gave their lives for our country. Honestly, our gratitude, appreciation, respect, and thankfulness all pales in light of the sacrifices these men and women made for you and me.
In actuality, the future of the United States depends in large amount on how well we remember and cherish our liberty as Americans. There is a high cost to forgetting. Although Memorial Day is an American holiday, nations across the world have their own traditions for remembering the sacrifices of their soldiers. There is something uniquely powerful about communal remembrance, when a nation or family gather together to reflect on significant people and events of the past. Memorial celebrations, military and otherwise, are common to many cultures throughout history, including the people of the Bible.
For Christians, the importance of remembering is crucial, because the whole of our faith depends upon remembering. God has surrounded us as believers with memorials, and the entire Bible itself is a memorial. Here are just a couple of those memorials which the Lord never wants us to forget or take for granted.
The Sabbath. Deuteronomy 5:15 says, “Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath.” One of the purposes of the Sabbath is to serve as a memorial to Israel’s freedom from Egyptian slavery. Today, we as believers honor the Sabbath as a way to remember the Lord’s faithfulness to us and the freedom He gave each of us as a result of His death and resurrection.
The Feasts/Celebrations. Exodus 13:3 says, “So Moses said to the people, ‘This is a day to remember forever – the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery.” Israel’s great gatherings on days of the feasts served as memorials, and on those days, they remembered the Lord and worshipped Him for all He did to bring them freedom. We are to continue these gatherings as New Testament believers and celebrate and remember all the Lord has done for us as well. Luke 22:19 is just one example, which says, “And He took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Churches come together to celebrate and remember not only the Lord’s Supper but also baptisms, Easter, and the Lord’s birth at Christmas. Remembering God’s past grace is necessary to fuel our faith in God’s future grace for us.
Reminders, both bitter or sweet, are important to our culture and our history. They remind us where we’ve come from and whose work got us to where we are today. It is important that we remember this, and just as Americans make a point of remembering on Memorial Day, so we too as Christians need to take time each day and remember, reflect and give thanks for what the Lord has done for each of us.
To those who have sacrificed their lives for our country, I Thessalonians 1: 2-3 says it best: “We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you constantly in our prayers. We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”