Summary: Memorial Day Sunday message comparing military sacrifices on the battlefield and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Leads into Lord’s Supper observance.
*ILL>The story is told of three elderly sisters who, in their last years, lived together in a shared home. One day sister #1 stopped midway on a staircase and asked one of her sisters, "Was I going up or coming down?" Sister #2 shook her head and told her, "You were going upstairs to go to bed." Then sister #2 walked into the kitchen. She stopped and looked around for awhile, then asked sister #3, "What was it I came in here for?" Sister #3 shook her head and said, "You came in here to make yourself a sandwich. Honestly, I don’t know what would happen to you two if I wasn’t here to take care of you. I hope I never become as forgetful as the two of you." Then, to give emphasis to her statement, she knocked on the wood of the kitchen table. Then, hearing the knocking sound, she immediately went to the front door and opened it up to see who was knocking.
Well, we might laugh at the sisters, but we too sometimes forget to remember. Today should not be one of those days.
There are important things we are deliberately choosing to remember today.
I invite you to open your Bible to John, chapter one.
*POEM>While you turn there, let me read to you the poem penned by Moina Michael some years ago:
We cherish today the poppy red...that grows on fields where valor led; it seems to signal to the skies...that the blood of heroes never dies.
Today we pause to remember and give tribute to the sacrifice of those who laid their lives down on battlefields on our behalf.
John 15:13 tells us, "No greater love has any man than to lay down his life for his friends."
And that’s exactly what those we give tribute to today did...they laid their lives down for their nation of friends. It was a costly sacrifice indeed.
WE GIVE TRIBUTE TO THE CHOICES THEY MADE AND THE TASKS THEY PERFORMED:
1) THEY WORE THE UNIFORM.
They could have refused to serve, but they didn’t.
Up until 1971 every young man after he turned 18 years old was aware there was a chance he might receive a letter in the mail, an official "Greetings!" letter from Uncle Sam, informing him that he had been selected to serve in the U.S. military. There were many who refused to serve. Some ran away to Canada, some burned their draft cards in protest, and others simply tried to hide out and hope they wouldn’t be found.
But those we give tribute to today chose to stand up and put on the uniform and serve their country.
Whether they were drafted or enlisted, they chose to follow through and put on the uniform.
And for that choice we give them tribute today.
<>They wore the uniform to represent their country and be identified as an American.
-- They set aside their more "fashionable" civilian clothes, with lots of variety, and they willingly chose to limit their wardrobe to only that which was issued to them, a wardrobe with very few colors, and a very limited number of acceptable styles and combinations.
<>They wore the uniform to be unashamedly identified as being a member of one of the branches of our Armed Services, one of the "good guys," and a member of a "Band of Brothers" committed to serving for the welfare of America.**
<>They wore the uniform to leave no doubt whose side they were on.
*ILL>I’ve spoken before of a young man during the Civil War years in America. He had two brothers, one who fought in the Union Army and the other who fought as a Confederate. One day the young man went to a nearby town in Kentucky when he thought both of his brothers’ companies might be coming close by. He chose not to declare an affiliation with either of the armies, so he wore the gray pants of the Confederates and a blue coat of the Union army. He was found the next morning, dead, under an old tree. He had been shot by both Armies.
2) THEY MOVED INTO HARM’S WAY.
When the battle began, they could have run away, deserted, they could have chosen to think only of themselves, but they didn’t.
*ILL>Years ago a ship wrecked off the New England coast. A young member of the Coast Guard rescue crew said to his captain, "We can’t go out. We’ll never get back." But the grizzled old captain, a life-long military man, replied to the young man: "No, we don’t have to come back, but we DO have to go out."
Knowing the risk, those we give tribute to today didn’t cower from the task, they engaged in the battle.
And in doing so, they paid the ultimate price: they gave their own lives.