Summary: A Memorial Day Sermon: We remember those who died to make us free; Above all, we remember Christ who died to free us from sin and death.
May 29, 2005 (Memorial Day)
23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread,
24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
For most Americans Memorial Day weekend is the great three-day weekend that kicks off the summer. It is a time for sitting on the porch and grilling out, perhaps a time for that first trip to the beach, but that is not what Memorial Day is about at all.
Originally, Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868. During that first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.
After World War I, Memorial Day observances began to honor not only Civil War veterans, but those who had died in all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. On this day we honor every soldier every sailor every civilian who died to make us free.
Because men and women have died for this country, we have the right to preach God’s word freely; We have the right to live at peace in our own homes; We have the right to pursue peace, prosperity, and happiness. Thank God for those who died to make us free. We ought to have a day in which we remember their sacrifice. We ought to offer a memorial for them.
By the same token, we also ought to remember the one who has set us free from spiritual tyranny. In Jesus, God entered the world. In Jesus, God expressed his love for us. Through Jesus, we are made acceptable to God. We celebrate our national Memorial Day once a year to remember those who died for freedom, but every day is a celebration of the Memorial of Christ. For the Christian, every day is a memorial day. On our national Memorial Day, we mourn the loss, remember the lives, and are thankful for the sacrifice. In light of what Jesus means to us, let’s examine the memorial we offer to him in conjunction this national memorial.
First, on Memorial Day we Mourn the Loss. We remember the loved ones who died, we wish they were here; we wish that we could hold them talk to them, see them, but we cannot.
When people die, we tend to dwell on the “If Only’s”
“If only I had gone to see them.”
“If only I had told him I loved him.”
“If only I had kissed her one last time.”
“If only I hadn’t spoken so harshly.”
Part of dealing with death is dealing with the guilt we feel because of the “If Only’s.”
On the Lord’s Memorial Day, we need to deal with our guilt in the death of Jesus. We were responsible for His death. We could say, “If only we had not sinned he would not have had to die.” We are to blame. We are the sinners Jesus died for. The movie “the Passion” depicted in agonizing detail the sufferings of Jesus. It lingered over the bloody scourging. It depicted every hammer blow of on the nails as they were driven through his flesh. It showed the hours of his agony on the cross.
It all happened because of me. It was for me. I am the one to blame. Jesus was treated as the worst of sinners because I am a sinner.
I read an article by Millie Wilson [http://mywilson.homestead.com/brusharbor.html] in which she described all day camp meetings or brush arbor meetings in Kentucky in the 1920s when she was a small child. The meetings were held outdoors in late summer, when the crops had been “laid by.” It was blazing hot, so they build brush arbors for some shade. Everyone went. The meetings were nondenominational. They had relays of preachers that would start after breakfast and go to sunset. They did not have pews obviously. People sat on rough hand-hewn benches. Millie says she hated those benches. As she put it, after awhile, they hurt both your back and your bottom. In front of the pulpit, there was one long bench, which was called “the mourner’s bench.” At the end of the mourner’s bench, there was bucket of water and a dipper.