Summary: We are to remember courage, responsibility, committment and sacrifice.
Introduction - "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote this poem in 1861 and according to the website at James Madison University where it was posted, Longfellow wrote it to arouse patriotism as the Civil War began. If this is true, what do you think that Longfellow wanted his audience, and us who followed, to remember?
Since this holiday is called “Memorial” Day, it’s title suggests that we are supposed to remember something. What is it that we are supposed to remember? What do you think?
I think that, among other things, we are to remember the following: (overhead 2)
Courage - We remember those who took a risk, and even gave their life, for their country in both times of war and times of peace.
Responsibility - We remember those who “make it their business” to keep the peace at home and abroad. It is serious business. It is dangerous business. But, they take responsibility for their work on our behalf.
Commitment - We remember those who commit themselves to the work and purposes of freedom and peace. Such commitment requires sacrifice.
Sacrifice - We remember those who this day sacrificed a great deal. They sacrificed the comforts of home, their careers, and in some cases, their very lives.
Why? Why did farmers and factory workers; business owners and suppliers; teachers and students; give up their livelihood and families and even their own lives at places like Lexington and Concord; Shiloh, Cold Harbor, and Gettysburg; Verdun and Bella Wood; Normandy, Okinawa, and Guadalcanal; Inchon and “Pork Chop” Hill; The Ia Drang Valley, Saigon, and Da Nang; Basra, Tikrit, and Baghdad? Because they believed their efforts were part of a larger cause - the cause of freedom and liberty and democracy. And this weekend, we remember them and we thank them for their service.
They believed there was something to this interesting and challenging place in world history called America. They believed that it was worth defending and even dying for.
We must always remember that freedom has a cost. We are to remember that sacrifice, be it of time, talent, or life is the greatest form of service.
All of this holds true for us as followers of Jesus Christ as well. The text read earlier, one that we have heard quite often, could be called “our marching orders.”
And just as we remember those who have fought, maintained, and served our nation in defense of freedom and democracy, so we remember this day these same things as followers of Jesus Christ. (Overhead 3)
In Acts 10:1 – 44, we see this demonstrated in a chapter in Peter’s life that is very important in the spreading of our faith and the growth of God’s kingdom.
I am not going to read the entire passage, but I encourage you to follow along, as I will share certain passages.
Just as we remember the courage of those who placed themselves in difficult and dangerous situations for our county, we must also recognize Peter’s courage as he followed Christ’s command to “go and make disciples.”
In this chapter, Peter is going to visit someone who has always been considered “unclean,” Cornelius, a Roman Army Officer, because he is not Jewish and he is part of the occupying Army.
Well, God operates in a unique and usual way here before Peter is aware of his next assignment. A trance, a vision, a dream, takes place while Peter waits for lunch. And in this dream all that he has been taught not to eat is presented to him to eat. This takes place three times and it “perplexes” Peter, as we read in verse 11.
Then, as stated in verse 19, the Holy Spirit says to Peter, “Three men have come looking for you. Go down and go with them without hesitation. All is well, for I have sent them.”
Peter did two things: 1. He invited them to stay with him something that, prior to this moment, would not have happened. 2. He went with them the next day.
Now let’s think for a moment about this situation. The men who came were Cornelius’ messengers. How could they have been dressed? Perhaps like Roman soldiers. Maybe they were Roman soldiers!
When I read this particular segment this past week, what struck me was that had not God prepared Peter for this meeting and mission, Peter could have ran for his life when he saw these Roman embraceries at the front door. Why? They were “unclean” and they could be there to arrest him, just like they did with Jesus. But, through the work of the Spirit, Peter showed courage in following the Lord. We must too.
And just as we remember those who exercise responsibility in their duties for our nation, Peter likewise exercised responsibility as well. He did as he was directed by the Spirit to go with these men.