Greetings on this Memorial Day Monday! I would have written “Happy Memorial Day”, but I know it is not so happy for some, melancholy for others, and possibly quite painful. As Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing made clear in her message on Sunday, there are many who have given their lives in service, not just to our country, but to the health and welfare of all citizens. The spirit of self-sacrifice still exists in our country, although sorely tested by the spirit of self-centered individualism.
I think back over the years to the many who quietly and unobtrusively gave of themselves to provide a good life for me. My adoptive parents certainly deserve more than simple thanks. I can think of several teachers along the way, from elementary school to high school, who saved my life. I am reminded of some spiritual guides who walked the path with me for a time, saving me from discouragement and despair. Some I know are gone. To others I have no way to say thanks. But the memories still live, and so wherever they are, I can wish them grace and peace from God.
Today I pray for one of my son’s best friends who was just deployed out of the country to a dangerous part of the world. I am grateful for the friendship that he and my son share, and for the joy it has brought them. I remember the shenanigans the two of them got into in earlier years. So I pray for his safe return to his family and to his friendships. And I grieve the decisions of powerful and selfish men in this world who require the lives of the innocent to serve as pawns in their schemes for economic and global domination. The dark side of Memorial Day belongs to them.
I don’t typically spend the power of words on negative thoughts because words (The Word) exist to create and exalt, not to destroy or cast down. So I return to those powerful words in Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi: “And I am sure that the One who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ… And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent… filled with the fruits of living a life of justice, which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
Rev. Dr. David Kaiser-Cross
It is a national holiday (holy-day?). Offices are closed. COVID-19 will certainly make this day different than in previous years. But we can still stop for at least a few minutes and offer a salutation to those we can remember who made it possible for us to enjoy the lives we have today, and for those who continue to exhibit a spirit of self-sacrifice.
Loving and Gracious God, thank you for those who sacrificed their lives for me, and for those who are doing so now. Amen.