Sunday May 26 Memorial Sunday
Scriptures: Psalm 67
God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
2 that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
7 May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.
23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.
“Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American G. I. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom.”
This is a quote often found on service related monuments and plagues all over the country. In fact, it can be found on the monument outside our very own local VFW Post. It was not written to elevate service personnel to the level of our LORD and Savior, but to remind us that it takes a special person with a special type of love to defend us to the death. Jesus did what He did because of His love of all humanity. Servicepersons do what they do because of their love of family and country. However, there is one other thing which the American serviceperson has in common with Jesus; the willingness to sacrifice their life so to an act of violence so others might experience a life of peace.
According to one set of research, America has been at war 226 our 243 years as a declared and independent country. Of course, this includes the multiple “Indian Wars” fought during the 19th Century. What an alarming statistic to look at. When one also considers the 17 years of peace were not consecutive years and six of them were during the Great Depression (those being 1935-1940), this is an even more troubling statistic. It goes to show how much we as human beings love to fight.
Therefore peace is a term not to be taken lightly. Also it would seem that physical/socio-political peace is near impossible to attain; much less maintain. So, what hope do we have of peace? Our hope is for inner/spiritual peace, which can only be truly delivered through prayer and devotion to our Father in heaven for only God is the source of the type of love needed to bring peace and order to our lives.
It is held as a central Christian belief that one day the world will know peace; a time when the “lamb will lay down with the lion.” This is a time which will be brought about by the Second Coming of Christ and the arrival of the New Heaven and New Earth. And though this could take place tomorrow, it is not our current reality. We live in a time when counties are at war, people are oppressed, children are hungry, and the next deadly disease seems just around the corner. We are a broken people living in a broken world where “peace” seems like a pipedream for many. However, peace is exactly what Jesus gave His life for. The peace He offers comes with salvation and salvation is not just a future promise, but can be experienced in this time by those freed from the bonds of despair and sin by the love and power of Jesus the Christ.
Peace is also what our service men and women have been giving their lives for all these many generations. They fight with the hope that they are fighting the last battle of the last war. During its time, World War 1 was called the “war to end all wars” by our nations President because he and many others believed it was so horrific and so devastating it would break the cycle of war and turn people against it forever. Of course, this was not to be the case as twenty years later World War 2 began on the same ground.
Despite our historical inability to maintain peace and order, many go off to war with the same hope of their ancestors; that they will be fighting in the last war. Because of this hope, a sense of duty, and love of family and country; many young men and women have marched, rode, sailed, or flown into the heat of battle. Many of them have returned, though not unchanged, at least alive. However, many have not. This Memorial Day and the Sunday which precedes it, let us take time to remember and honor those who have fallen in that name of hope and peace.
At the same time, let us also remember He who died not just for our families, but for all families. He died so all could have the opportunity for salvation along with the hope and peace which come with it.