More Grist for the Mill

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Memorial Day 2017 Reflections

Memorial Day is one of those holidays where our primary identity (before family or nationality) as people of the resurrection puts us in a unique position to celebrate what is a national holiday. This reality is grounded in the fact that today, across the fruited plain and around the globe, citizens of the USA are (hopefully) setting aside the day to, in part, remember the sacrifices made by those who died in service to others.

Much time and energy is spent this weekend to make sure the sacrifice of others is not forgotten, and to teach the next and new generations of citizens that our political freedom came and comes at the high cost of the life of soldiers across the over 200 years of our history. I fully and wholeheartedly support this emphasis, and look forward to teaching Anna Catherine the sacred solemnity of this day. After all, when we forget the lessons of history we are, of course, doomed to repeat them.

As Christians, you and I know that we find life in the sacrifice of one who chose to die so that others may have the freedom to no longer live in fear of death. We find life in the sacrifice of one who chose to die knowing there would be legion who not only outright ignored this reality but would reject the one who made this sacrifice. You and I know that we are called to live every day – nay, every moment – honoring and observing the sacrifice made by Christ through choosing to live in the way that He modeled and taught. After all, when we choose to live in a way that is in direct opposition to that which Christ taught us, we are doomed to a life of death and despair, not life and hope.

Whether in society or within the Christian community, we are at our best when we live in such a way as to honor those who sacrificed their lives so that we may enjoy the freedom that comes as a result of that very sacrifice.

In the secular, nationalistic perspective, this includes but is not limited to the simple things like voting in every election, even if it is a one-question ballot about a local millage, for when we treat any election as one we can skip because it is no big deal, we are telling the hundreds of thousands of men and women who gave their lives that their sacrifice is no big deal and is to be greeted with an indifferent yawn.

In the Christian perspective, this includes but is not limited to the simple things like weekly worship with the faith community, involvement in Sunday Schools and/or other formation groups, missional involvement with the unchurched and the needy, choosing to lift one another up through encouragement, setting aside the tithe from the first fruits of our labors in support of the work of Christ and His church, just to name a few. When you and I fail to participate in the life of faith as a follower of Christ in these simple ways that help us live the life to which Christ leads us, we are telling Christ that His sacrifice on the cross is no big deal, and is to be greeted with an indifferent yawn.

Memorial Day is a sacred day in the life of our nation, and one that demands respect. May we take time to remember and give thanks for the lives sacrificed. However, let us also remember to never leave Memorial Day satisfied to pat ourselves on the back for setting aside a day. Let us truly honor those who sacrificed by living everyday to the fullest through the freedom for which they fought.

As people of the cross, may we never forget Christ’s sacrifice on Good Friday. Let us live each and every day knowing that we find our joy and our perspective in Christ alone, for we are defined not by our circumstances (good or bad) but by Christ’s love alone.

Grace and Peace,
Lamar

About Lamar Oliver

I am a Christian, husband, father, and United Methodist pastor who is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University (Accounting) and Asbury Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity) in my 17th year of full-time ministry.