Summary: Memorial Day. Man attempts to gain immortality by being remembered across the centuries. But memory still fades and true immortality is found only by being remembered by God for Christ's sake.
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
It is in the nature of man to remember. We remember lots of things, the days of our youth, of games, and pranks, and play. Happy days. Our wedding day. The birth of our children. Precious and joyous memories these are. Memories of great events that have happened during our lives. We also remember the sad days. The days of loss and of pain. Memorial Day is a day for remembering our war dead. Those who died fighting in our country’s battles. Why do we have such a day? Because it is not only the nature of man to remember, but it is also in the nature of man to be remembered.
Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. And great leaders throughout history, knowing that they will die as all men must, have sought out to preserve their memory, in an attempt to cheat death and to live on. The Pharaohs of Egypt built pyramids and sphinxes, to preserve their memories. But who can name them? Egypt was one of the great powers of the world. Their monuments are endured, but their memories have faded. They could not build a memory eternal.
Here in America we have monuments for Presidents – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln. Their names have been preserved. Most schoolchildren know who they were. But memory? No, there is no one left alive who actually remembers them. They have left a legacy, but their memory is not eternal.
We have also built monuments for our wars and our war heros. And it is good and right that we should be thankful and appreciate their service and their sacrifice. Yet, Memorial Day will for most Americans be about picnics and boating, and a good time. The thought of our war dead will not cross their minds. These brave men and women gave fully of themselves, but even they have no memory eternal.
Well, perhaps this lack of memory is because we didn’t know many of those who fought and died, and that is why our memories have faded. We didn’t even have a memory in the first place. For those we knew and loved, surely that memory will endure. And because it is the nature of man to want to be remembered, we try to comfort one another at times of loss with “You’ll always have memories,” or some such words. Yet, we know don’t we, that those memories, cherished as they are, are a poor substitute for our loved one who is no longer with us.
And we soon learn, that even for those we know and love, that the memories grow dim. It strikes a new pain in us when we first realize that we lived through a whole day without thinking of that loved one who is gone. It’s not that we are trying to forget. We want to remember. But our minds just will not let us. Our memory is not eternal.
What about the generations who have gone before us? We may think also of them, and honor them. But many of us have many generations in the cemetery already. Back home, I have four generations in the cemetery, my grandfather, my great-grand-father, my great-great, and my three great grand-father. August, David, John, and Kasper. I know their names. But beyond my grandfather, I have no memory. Man wants to live on, and because he cannot get around death, he tries to live on by being remembered for as long as he possible can. But it does not work out. There is no memory eternal. Or is there?
In the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi the prophet writes:
The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession,
God has a book of memories, a book of remembrance. In it, He has written the name of everyone who esteems His name. What name is that? Jesus. The angel told Mary, You will call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. St. Paul writes about Christ, that “being found in nature as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11).