Happy Memorial Day!
In the past few days, I have found a couple of particular things to be of some interest:
1. The first thing that has held my interest is that many – possibly, most – people really seem to have no idea why we celebrate Memorial Day. They know it’s related to patriotism, freedom, and the military, but they aren’t quite sure how it’s distinct from Independence Day or Veteran’s Day. However, on Memorial Day we particularly remember those brave heroes who have given given their lives in combat for their country.
* NOTE: My sermon yesterday was about the three things we do – and I believe are biblically called to do – on Memorial Day. We remember. We give thanks. And we celebrate.
2. The second thing that has held my interest is that too many people – often Christians, regrettably – simply can’t let holidays be what they are. Now, on this issue, I want to be cautious, for I do honestly want to think as Christianly as I can.
Before I begin to say what I have in mind, let me illustrate what I mean. A few years ago during Advent, I saw a Church marque that read something to the effect of [I’m paraphrasing here.]: sure, we all like the little Baby lying in the manger, but most don’t like the Savior hanging on the cross. Now, though my wording is not precisely accurate, I am not stretching what the sign said [Please trust me.]. Now, why would a Christian feel the need to make such an insensitive jab – or “drive-by” remark – at folks?
Okay, what does this have to do with Memorial Day? Well, a couple of days ago while surfing the web, I was invited by an add to read an essay written by a Christian concerning “the two kingdoms”. This invitation was unabashedly made as a challenge to our typical thoughts at Memorial Day, and the essay was essentially making the point that we can either be true to America – a kingdom of the world – or to Christ – the King of THE Kingdom. And so, I entered into a bit of dialogue (which I hope to continue, if I find some time) with the writer.
The problem I have with such challenges is not about the fact that they are challenges or even that they are a bit controversial. In fact, I enjoy challenges and sometimes even find myself to being somewhat controversial. About some things, I know I am controversial; about others, I have been known to deliberately inspire controversy. The problem I have, though, is that we – particularly, again, as Christians – too often feel the need to make our snide remarks about everything. We can’t simply let things be what they are and celebrate them in their undeniable truth and goodness.
Please note, I am not saying that we are never to be critical. We are certainly called to have critical minds, even judging all things. However, the writer of the said essay was painting a picture of two kingdoms that are diametrically opposed to one another – as if the Church and America share nothing in common and are always at odds. He even went so far as to imply that military service would be inordinate obedience to another “king”, though I couldn’t get him to plainly say so.
If I might be frank – not the person, but the adjective – as best I can tell, the Gospel is only hindered by such assumptions. Though America is not without its flaws – some quite big and ugly -, it is truly a virtuous nation that stands for life, liberty, and “the pursuit”. Thank God for these! And thank God that there have been many thousands throughout our history who have fallen that these might continue to be America’s principles!
God bless our nation! And God bless our troops!