Summary: Memorial Day Sermon. It opens honoring those who gave their lives for our country, but ultimately honors those who gave their lives for our King. It closes with the ultimate Memorial Service for us as Christians, the Lord’s Supper.
Freedom Isn’t Free
October 12, 2000. To some people, this may be a loved ones birthday. To others, maybe the day they bought their first new car. October 12, 2000. Undoubtedly, mothers were busy making Halloween costumes or perhaps even a few were beginning to buy Christmas gifts preparing for a holiday still over two months away.
October 12, 2000. For many of us, it is not a date that rings in our ears or keeps us up at night, but for the 17 American families, October 12 is a day that they will never forget. It was on that date that they were receiving the news that their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandchildren, or maybe even their husbands or wives were killed. It was on that date, October 12, 2000 that terrorist loaded up a small boat with explosives and headed toward the U.S.S. Cole. Seventeen seamen died that day, not in combat, but no less, in service to their country.
To many of us, Memorial Day means walks in the park, family vacations, or the end of a school year. For many, Memorial Day has quite a different meaning.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May, passed by Congress in 1968.
I have listed some astounding facts inside of your bulletin. These numbers detail the total number of soldiers who have served in various wars and the total number of casualties incurred. I have added these figures and here is what I have found. Of the almost 37,000,000 soldiers involved in previous wars, the total number of dead is just over 643,000. This figure represents 1.75% if the total number who have served in combat. Out of every 1000 soldiers in combat, 175 were killed in action.
Look around you. There are probably about 80 people here today. If we were all soldiers and were going into battle, one of you would not come home. However, that figure my friends have not always been that good. It has been only in recent times, and by recent I mean the last 50 years, that the figure has dropped. Many of us are too young to remember the devastation of WWII or WW I. In WW I and WW II, the mortality rate was close to 2.5 %. In other words, instead of one of us not coming home, it would be two.
I would like to read for you the second verse of a poem entitled “Freedom Isn’t Free”, Author: Unkown
I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard at the
bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.....
No -- Freedom isn’t free!!
Today, we salute those who have died to secure and preserve our freedom. We honor their courage, we honor their duty, we honor their sacrifice.
Yes, we honor those who have given their lives for their country, but today, this Memorial Day, there is another group of men that I would like to honor.
There are many, though I do not know the figures, who have lost their lives, not in service to their country, but in service to their King.
From the 1st century church, to present times, people have died for their faith. We all know, of course, the story of Stephen who died at the hands of the Romans for expressing his faith. We know of the other early Christians who were burned at the stake, or placed in the Coliseum to meet their death with the Lions.
I would like to tell you of some others of which you may or may not know.
It as in 1955 that four men were serving as missionaries to the Indians in Ecuador. There was one tribe that the locals considered savages, so they called them “Auca”, which means savage in their language. For many generations the Aucas had been completely isolated from the outside world, and killed any stranger on sight. They were feared even by their head-hunting neighbors, the Jivaro tribe.
The 4 men, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Jim Elliot, and Peter Fleming, found a settlement of the Aucas just 15 minutes from their camp. They devised a plan to reach them. They began by flying over the village and dropping presents from the plane. On the first trip, they lowered a kettle into the village, which appeared to be deserted. On the second trip, when the Aucas saw the plane, they came out to greet them and accept the presents.