Last Monday, we celebrated Memorial Day. Most of us observed the holiday by having a cookout, by shopping the sales at our favorite stores, or by getting away for a long weekend. Memorial Day serves as the official start of summer for most Americans, and for many of us who live in Bay County, it marks the last time we will cross the Hathaway Bridge until Labor Day!
While Memorial Day means many things to us, since 1971, the final Monday in May has been declared a national holiday for one purpose: to honor the men and women who have given their lives in service to their country during times of war. It was first commemorated in the years following the Civil War to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers from that tragic conflict. Originally called Decoration Day, residents in communities placed flowers on the graves of those who had given their lives in military service. I distinctly remember as a child making the rounds with my parents to the local cemeteries to decorate the graves, not just of deceased soldiers and sailors, but of dearly departed family members as well.
Sadly, in the present, most of us give little more than a cursory thought to the real meaning of Memorial Day. It’s fairly safe to say that few of us spent any significant time remembering the price others have paid for our freedom last weekend. If that was the case, I encourage you to pause and give thanks to God for the sacrifice others have made on our behalf. It would also be a good time to pray for the brave men and women who now serve our country, asking the Lord to protect them from harm and to keep them safe so they don’t have to pay the ultimate price.
If we’re not careful, this tendency to lose sight of the real meaning of a memorial observance can spill over into our spiritual lives as well. Our Methodist founder, John Wesley, commonly referred to the Lord’s Supper as a “memorial meal.” The dictionary defines memorial as “something designed to preserve the memory of a person, event, etc. as a monument or a periodic observance.” Holy Communion is a periodic observance designed to preserve the memory of both a person and an event. It helps us remember Jesus and the last supper He shared with His disciples. On the night before His death, He told them and all of His would-followers, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Like what happens with our observances of Memorial Day, we must make sure we don’t get so caught up in the outward forms of the ritual itself that we forget the real meaning and purpose of the commemoration. Jesus truly “paid it all” so that you and I might experience freedom from sin and become recipients of eternal life.
Typically, we gather on the first Sunday of each month to remember the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the sacrament of Holy Communion. I hope you’ll join us as we do so on June 3rd as we kick off a new series called, “The Incredibles.” The sequel to the Disney animated movie with that title will be released later this month. Drawing on that theme, we’re going to look at the “incredible” life that is to be lived by Jesus’ followers as evidenced by the story of the first believers told in the Book of Acts.
Also, on June 3rd we will celebrate the other sacrament we recognize as United Methodist Christians: Holy Baptism. Between services at the Transmitter campus, we will baptize several new believers outside near the fountain. You’ll want to join us as we celebrate their new life in Christ and “remember” our own baptism into the faith.
The national holiday called Memorial Day has passed for this year, but we still have lots of opportunities to remember the sacrifice of the One who gave His life as a ransom for many – our Savior Jesus. Let’s not get lax in our attendance this summer, but instead, let’s celebrate each week in worship the freedom we’ve been given through Christ.
In His Name,
Craig CarterLead Pastor, LHUMC