Memorial Day, Remembering to Remember

Suzi Ciliberti's picture

Monday is Memorial Day.

How many homes and Sunday school classes will make the most of this teaching moment? Is it true that most Americans see Memorial Day more as a celebration for the beginning of summer than the freedom/flag day that was intended? There are homes and churches who will recognize their veterans and celebrate their sacrifice. Most churches will praise God for our freedom and pray for the families of the fallen. How many will look historically at the beginning of this great holiday and understand that it is a memorial set to remember the price willingly paid to free thousands from slavery and to keep a country united? 

In his article for TIME, Merrill Fabry said that it first began after the Civil War ended and cites that Yale Historian David Blight from his book Race and Reunion, as saying, early speeches for Decoration Day - the name originally given to the holiday and used alongside “Memorial Day” until the mid 20th century - often celebrated the Union soldiers’ fight to end slavery and preserve the union. http://time.com/4770697/memorial-day/

History is full of memorials. This is a cultural teaching moment to train our children in the importance of remembering. If we don’t intentionally plan to remember, we won’t. If we don’t preserve what we remember, we forget the most important details, the meaning of the event, the lessons learned, the victories won.

The Bible is full of memorials. From the calling of Moses in Exodus, to set His people free and continuing throughout the Bible, God sets up memorials. 3:14 God said to Moses, “I am that I am.” And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 3:15 God also said to Moses, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘The Lord—the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial from generation to generation.’ The Net Bible

According toW. L. Walker, “MEMORIAL,MEMORY, (אַזְכָּרָה, ’azkārāh, זֵכֶר, zēkher, זֶכֶר, zekher, זִכָּרוֹן, zikkārōn; μνημόσυνον,mnēmósunon): “Memorial” as the tr of ’azkārāh is a sacrificial term, that which brings the offerer into remembrance before God, or brings God into favorable remembrance with the offerer; it is used of the burning of a portion of the meal offering”- (1915). Memorial, Memory. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 2030). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company,

 For the believer, the greatest memorial, to mark our freedom in Christ, is the Lord’s Supper. “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, 24 and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ 25 In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Making the most of teaching moments is how we train the next generation to remember what is important, learn from past mistakes, and plant seeds of hope for that which we know is to come. Remembering is a very solemn and important part of the life of a believer. What better teaching moment than Memorial Day to teach our children the importance of memorials?

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