May 30, 2011
(Jesus said) "... Do this in remembrance of Me." 1 Corinthians 11:24b
"If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us."
Those words establishing Memorial Day are taken from General Order Number 11. That order was written in 1868 by General John Logan who was then serving as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Even as he encouraged people to remember those in the Civil War who had given their lives to preserve the Union, Logan recognized one of humanity's great flaws: we forget those to whom we owe much.
Forgetfulness certainly has been the great flaw when it comes to the celebration of Memorial Day. Not so many years ago pastors were asked to say a few words about military sacrifice to the great Memorial Day crowds that gathered at the community or congregational cemeteries. This Memorial Day the only invitation many pastors will get is to a family barbecue.
People have forgotten those who gave their lives to preserve their physical freedom.
Things aren't much different in the spiritual realm.
Twenty centuries ago Jesus Christ -- God's Son and our Redeemer -- gave His life to save us. On Calvary's cross He died so we might no longer be condemned. Jesus allowed Himself to be sacrificed so all who believe on Him might live forgiven and free.
All He asked in return was for His people to believe in Him and remember all He has done to save them.
Jesus wants us to remember; but most people forget.
So, this Memorial Day, I'm trotting out General Logan's orders and asking all of you to do as Logan promised: "If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall (remember the Savior and) keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, keep us from forgetting. Instead, let us remember the Savior's unique sacrifice, which saves the souls of all who believe on Him. And, if it please You, may I also remember those men and women who served, suffered and died so I might enjoy earthly freedom. This I pray in my Savior's Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries