“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” [John 15:13]
As I write this, I am sitting in a condo on the beach in Florida on vacation with my family. In the United States, it is the eve of Memorial Day, a day in which we remember and honor the men and women who have fought and lost their lives fighting for the freedoms that we enjoy in this country. I know that it’s because of those sacrifices that I can enjoy vacations like this, and the thought of personal threats to our safety does not even cross my mind. I am humbled by their sacrifice. If you are the family member of one who made the ultimate sacrifice, thank you. We owe you more than we can ever repay.
One thing I love about our country is that we strive to honor those who serve our country. Even though we have a couple special holidays set aside for an organized time of rememberance, the United States makes a conscious effort to remember daily the lives of those who serve. There are memorials set up all over the country that are visited on a daily basis. A trip to Washington D.C. is not complete without visiting sites like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, etc. I have even been privileged one time to visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. As powerful and emotional as these memorials are, nothing compares to visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. No other memorial commands respect and remembrance quite like the continual ritual carried out at this sacred site. If you ever have an opportunity to visit, I strongly encourage you to do so. This tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, regardless the weather conditions. It is simply amazing.
Though few things compare to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we are Christians have another memorial that should be just as moving and powerful to us. Nearly 2,000 years ago, our Lord and Savior laid down His life for us. In much the same way that the soldiers of this great country have made the ultimate sacrifice to save our physical lives, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to save our spiritual lives. Just like the military forces of the United States choose to do so without force, Christ voluntarily took upon Himself the sins of the world so that we could have freedom from the enslavement of sin (I Peter 2:21-24). Just as this country memorializes the sacrifices of it’s brave soldiers, God created a memorial that we use to remember the sacrifice of Christ. It is what we refer to as the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:14-23).
At times, I believe that all Christians need to take a step back and think about the reason why we partake of such a memorial. Do we eat the bread and drink the juice every Lord’s day just because we are told to? Is it simply a required part of worship that we hurry through so we can check the box and say we did it? Has it become a mundane and lost meaning? If so, I beg you to find a way to change that mindset. This memorial is there so that we will never forget. May it never become ritualistic for us. May it never become just another thing that we do. May we never forget the sacrifice that was made for us.
On this Memorial Day, spend some time remembering those in our country who have laid down their lives for their friends. Never allow their sacrifice to be lost in the hustle and bustle of our crazy lives. Allow the memorials this country has erected to bring your minds back to a place of remembrance. But at the same time, don’t let the sacrifice of our Lord lose its meaning. Don’t let the memorial that our Lord has established become a mundane part of your worship.
“…and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'” [I Corinthians 11:24-25]