Posts tagged ‘Remember’

More Than a Memorial

Credit: Chad Madden /

Today is Memorial Day. Today’s observances continue a tradition that began on May 5, 1868, when General John A. Logan called for a nationwide day of remembrance at the end of that month for those lost in the Civil war:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.

Because General Logan called for the decorating of graves, his observance was called “Decoration Day.” Over time, Decoration Day came to be known as Memorial Day and was moved to the last Monday in May by an act of Congress in 1968 and has been celebrated on this Monday ever since 1971.

As Memorial Day encourages us to do, remembering those we have lost is critical. And like its predecessor, Decoration Day, reminds us, using physical objects – from crosses to pictures to flowers to flags – to help us remember can be healing.

The night before Jesus goes to the cross, He gathers His disciples to celebrate a final meal with them. As in Decoration Day, Jesus presents His disciples with some physical objects:

Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is My body.” Then He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

And as in Memorial Day, Jesus also encourages His disciples to remember Him:

“Do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)

But this meal is more than simply a memorial with some tokens that help us remember a person we have lost. The apostle Paul writes that, when we partake of this meal with its objects of bread and wine, we are not only remembering with Christ, but communing with Christ here and now:

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16)

But how do we commune with Christ – indeed, even with His very blood and body – here and now?

If Christ had shared this meal with His disciples before He died and then remained dead, this meal would simply be a memorial. But He did not stay dead. Three days later, He rose. So we do not just remember Christ with bread and wine, we truly commune with Christ in the meal He has given us. He is our risen and living host.

Paul also writes:

We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16-17)

Paul reminds us that Jesus’ resurrection is only the beginning of something even bigger. Because Christ has risen, those who die in Christ will rise, too. And we will all be together again. Children who have lost parents in battle, parents who have lost children, husbands who have lost wives, and wives who have lost husbands will all be reunited. And Memorial Day will be needed no more. For on the day Christ returns, we will not just remember our lost loved ones, we will commune with them – and with Christ.

Today, let us take a moment to remember those who have given their lives in battle to protect and defend this nation. But let us also hope for the day when we will need to remember no more because we will be able to see those we have lost face-to-face. The headstones we visit today will one day give way to hugs we enjoy forever.

That’s a promise worth remembering.

May 31, 2021 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

ABC Extra – Repeating the Past

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  So said the Spanish philosopher George Santayana in his 1905 opus magnum The Life of Reason.  If only Santayana was right.  If only it was only those who had somehow forgotten the past who, ignorant of the lessons of yesteryear, repeated them in these years.  Unfortunately, even those who do remember the past, as debase as it might be, often repeat it.  The son who knows his father is an alcoholic drinks excessively himself and develops the same addiction.  The daughter who is bitter and vindictive remembers well the grudges her mother held against others.  The father who hits his wife passes his legacy down to a son who raises his hand to his girlfriend in a fit of rage.  We have no problem remembering past calamities.  But in spite of our well-defined memories, we all too often repeat them.

What reason can be given concerning those who remember the past and nevertheless consign themselves to repeat it?  In our text from this weekend, the apostle Peter reminds us that we are all heirs to “the empty way of life handed to us by our forefathers” (1 Peter 1:18).  The Greek word for “empty” is instructive.  It is the word mataios which denotes the appearance of a thing as distinct from its essence.  That is, mataios allows for a thing to look enticing in its appearance while leading to sin, despair, and death in its essence.  One cannot help but think of how Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (Genesis 3:6).  Satan tempted history’s first couple with the appearance of wisdom.  But what Satan was leading Adam and Eve to, as appealing as its appearance may have seemed, was, in its essence, sin, despair, and death.

What Satan did with Adam and Eve he continues to do with us.  He tempts us with a thing that has an appealing appearance, but, in its essence, leads us to sin, despair, and death.  Satan tempts us with the appearance of joy through drunkenness.  But that ephemeral joy quickly melts into the essence of regret as we suffer through a hangover.  Satan tempts us with the appearance of pleasure through sex outside of marriage.  But that illusory pleasure quickly melts into essence of pain as a marriage is destroyed.  The temptations of Satan look full and marvelous, but, in reality, they are empty and tragic.  They are mataios.

Thus, it is no surprise that we fall for temptations from our past.  For though we may remember their appealing appearances, we all too often minimize or even forget their essential brokenness.

What remedy is there against Satan’s enticements toward all things mataios?  Peter answers, “Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:13).  Again, the Greek for the word “given” is instructive.  It is the word phero which refers to something that is not only “given,” but “brought.”  That is, God desires not only to give us His grace, He has actually made provision for it to be brought to us through His Son Jesus Christ.  Indeed, this is what we celebrate at Christmas:  How God was not content to leave His grace supinely suspended in heaven and so deigned to bring His grace to earth in the person and work of Jesus.  Our ancestors, beginning with Adam and Eve, may have handed down to us the impoverished ways of mataios, but our God brings down to us His amazing grace in Christ.  So instead of trying to remember the pain of past mataios so that you can learn from it, instead, rejoice in the peace of God’s present grace.  Because, in the light of God’s eternal grace, mataios loses its appealing appearance.  For we now have God’s grace and its incomparable essence of forgiveness.  And that’s good news.

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December 13, 2010 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

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