Some 30 years ago, when I was serving as Pastor at the El Cerrito UMC in the East Bay, a couple of us were going through a storage area when we came across a wall plaque listing the names of those in the congregation who had served in World War 2. Beside two or three of the names was a gold star. In case you are not aware of the symbolism, a gold star denotes that that person died in the defense of our nation. Sometimes even now you will see home with a small flag with a blue star in the center: that signifies that someone from that home is currently serving in the military.
My paternal grandparents would have had a flag with two blue stars during World War 2, one for my uncle George and one for my father. I am glad we have Veteran’s Day to remember those who served our country. I am respectful yet regretful that we have Memorial Day, respectful of the sacrifices made to preserve our freedoms and topple tyrants, regretful that we have not figured out a better way to deal with disputes short of shooting wars where primarily young people die. I long for God’s preferred vision to be fulfilled when we do not learn war any more. I invite you to join me in taking some time this coming Monday to reflect upon those you know who have made that ultimate sacrifice and offer a prayer of thanks for them and their faithfulness to serve.
I would also encourage each and every one of us to do some other thanks-giving on this Memorial Day. Along with appreciating those who have fought for our freedoms, let us also take time to remember—and rejoice over—those who have seen to our safety, health, learning, and well-being in other ways as well.
Here is what I recommend: get with a friend or family member—or perhaps two or three, go to a nice shaded place in the cool of the morning and share with one another the lives of those who have blessed your living, beginning with those who now dwell in God’s eternal presence. Share their name, how you knew them, and how they blessed you. Then let the next person follow suit. I would urge you not to rush, but to savor the memory of those individuals.
Next, when you have named all you can bless who are not longer among us, go on to name others who are still living and still bless and guide and encourage you. The added step during this part of the sharing is to note the names and—if you can—be in touch with those folks later, telling them how much they mean to you. Imagine how it would bless you to learn of those whose lives you have touched with grace. If you do what I am suggesting, let me know how it went for you—how it blessed you. Please email me at: email@example.com.
Yours for Christ,
P.S. One more thing: as you give your thanks for those who have defended our freedoms, pray also for the Ukrainians forced to defend theirs. Pray for their protection, comfort, and victory. Tyranny must be opposed or it spreads.