Summary: This is a Memorial Day Sermon. We will remember 1. Soldiers 2. Christians 3. Our Lord. We conclude by observing the Lord’s Supper in a unique fashion.
Living A Legacy
A Memorial Day Celebration
In a Change of Command Ceremony at Fort Riley, KS, on 2 June 2006, LTC Eric Wesley included these words in his speech.
[“…allow me to tell you about these men and the families of the men standing in front of you.
And I would start by telling you what they are NOT. Frankly, and I have to confess this, I fear our culture has a naïve, somewhat ignorant view of what Soldiers DO. Some think they are merely fighters. Men who go out, look for, and kill or capture bad guys. There are others who may see our Soldiers as the makers of the “good news stories” that everyone wants to see on TV – you know the stories - the guys who paint schools, pass out candy, and visit orphanages. Let me tell you. They do that stuff. All of it. But it doesn’t define WHO they are and nor does it come CLOSE to defining WHAT they are achieving.
William Bennett recently wrote this on Memorial Day. In paraphrasing President Lincoln he said “the American Soldier - his patriotism, fidelity, and valor - have made this land the last best hope on earth.
Now, why is that? Well the reason is because they aren’t merely painting schools. They aren’t just finding and killing bad guys. These men are ambassadors for cultural change. They are literally shaping a culture - physically lifting it out of the grasp of oppression and making a way for human dignity. They are agents of cultural change; they are on point in our nation’s role as the last best hope as ambassadors in a complex world.”]
Tomorrow is “Memorial Day”. It is a day that is more than a day off from work. It is more than a day that we can go to the lake and have a barbeque. It is a day set aside to remember those who have given their lives as "ambassadors for cultural change".
It is interesting to note that the words “remember”, “remembrance”, and “memorial” are found more than 230 times in the Bible. The Lord commanded his people in the Old Testament to observe certain days as days of “remembrance”. In the New Testament Jesus said these words:
“This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19 (NKJV)
This morning I want us to remember three agents of cultural change that have shaped our lives.
1. The Soldiers Who Have Died For Our FREEDOM.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13 (NKJV)
In the Civil War, 365,000 Northern soldiers were killed, and 133,000 soldiers from the South died. In World War One, 116,000 American soldiers died. In World War Two, 407,000 American soldiers died. 54,000 American soldiers died in Korea, 58,000 died in Vietnam, 148 died during Desert Storm. As of May 24, 2007 there were 3,435 American Soldiers that have died in Iraq and 390 in Afghanistan.
More than a million Americans have died in wars fighting for the freedom that we enjoy. I can say that I have been to the Middle East as a United States Army Chaplain and I can tell you that not all countries enjoy the same freedoms that we in American enjoy. We are free today because of the service of our soldiers. We are free to pray or not pray. We are free to worship as we choose. We are free to speak our minds. We are free to vote for the leadership of this country. We need to remember the sacrifice of our American soldiers – ambassadors for culture change – who have gone before us, so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy. It has been said and rightly so: "freedom is not free". There are people who have paid for our freedom - we call them soldiers.
(Show Memorial Day Video.)
Secondly we need to remember:
2. The Saints Who Have Died For Our FAITH.
The building that we are worshiping in today was built in 1908. It is the third church building that was constructed on this location. There are names on some of the stained glass windows honoring those who were here before us. We sitting here don’t remember the people whose names on the windows nor do we even remember the families. But I can tell you - they had a major part in the construction of this building.
This building was erected and used as a Methodist church until 1948 when the Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian congregations in Burlingame came together to form one congregation. Their efforts became The Burlingame Federated Church. Three churches joining as one. Three different denominational groups with their own unique doctrines and heritage joining together to worship One God. How could they possibly join together? Ephesians chapter four tells us how: