The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
In Remembrance

The initial observance of Memorial Day was held May 30, 1868. It was originally named “Decoration Day” because time was set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves.

After World War I, observances expanded to honor those who had died in all of America’s wars. Congress officially declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971.

Across the nation, ceremonies are held with hymns, prayers and patriotic speeches reminding us of the sacrifices made by those who perished defending our nation, our constitution and our freedom. Usually, it is a solemn time of remembrance that closes with a bugle or trumpet playing the call of TAPPS, which is often played at military burials.

However, that is not how most Americans observe this national holiday. They go on picnics, go to the beach, take road trips, spend time with their families, have cookouts and numerous other “day off” or “long weekend” activities that are more like personal vacations. I’m not saying it is wrong or sinful to do these activities, but I’m just pointing out how such a meaningful event can be forgotten and even ignored by the people who have benefited most from the service of those who are celebrated.

God used memorials to remind his people of significant events in the history of God’s blessings on the nation of Israel.

The two stones with engraved names of Jacob’s sons that were attached to the Ephod worn by the high priest served as a memorial. There were acts of worship by the people and the priests in the Temple that were considered to be memorials of God’s atonement and provision for them. The stack of twelve stones at the edge of the Jordan River served as a memorial to the time when God parted it waters and allowing the people to cross into the promised land on dry ground. The Passover Feast served as a memorial to how the blood on the doorposts of the Israelites homes protected the firstborn of each household when death came upon the first born throughout Egypt. It was also a reminder of how that event forced Pharoah to release them from slavery so they could return to their homeland.

When Jesus assembled his disciples to participate in the Passover meal, he transferred the memorial to become one of remembrance of how he fulfilled Passover by becoming the ultimate Passover Lamb, sacrificed for the sins of the world. Christians now observe this Memorial we call the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist (cup of Thanksgiving) or Communion as all his followers partake in the loaf and the cup, his body and his blood given for our sins.

It appears that the early church participated in this memorial each time they met. In fact, it appears that the official purpose of assembling was to share in the Lord’s Supper and while they gathered someone might preach, teach and/or worship. Acts 20:7 says, “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.”

Many congregations gather today for purposes other than the memorial of the Lord’s Supper. They gather to sing, preach, teach, pray and share in other activities. I would not call that wrong or even sinful, but they miss the main point of meeting. They do not celebrate the Memorial Christ gave us.

Some have said that having the Lord’s Supper every week makes in too commonplace; that it takes away the true meaning. Perhaps this can happen, but it is difficult to understand how. If you have a picture of a loved one who has moved away or died, would you hide that picture away and only look at it from time to time so that seeing them doesn’t take away the sincere feelings you have for them? Of course not! You put that photo in a high traffic location where you view it as often as possible. You never grow tired of seeing it and you never lose that strong feeling whenever you see it. The Lord’s Supper (Memorial) is better than a photo of Jesus. It is a participation in his sacrifice through partaking of the loaf (body) and cup (blood) of our Lord and Savior. It never loses its power to bring us close to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

At First Christian Church, the Lord’s Supper is shared each Sunday and is the central focus of our worship. We do not criticize others who do not, but we find it to be the heart of our gathering with him and one another. This Memorial Day weekend, let us not forget those who sacrificed their lives for our nation. This Sunday, let us not forget the One who sacrificed his life for our sins so that we could have eternal life with God in this Memorial.

Sunday we will conclude our series of messages titled Agent of Change Elisha – God’s Man of Purpose with the message, A Legacy of Life based on 2 Kings 13:20-21. Come and share in this time of worship and Memorial of what Christ did for us on the cross.

In Remembrance of Him,

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