No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Dear Memorializing Faithful:
Less than one month after the Confederacy surrendered, putting an end to the Civil War, the first act of honoring the dead soldiers was organized. By the end of the war, the great city of the South, Charleston, South Carolina, laid in ruins. It had been mostly abandoned by the white residents that could leave town fleeing the doom and fear that hung over the city. It became known as a “city of the dead”. One part of the city that was especially gloomy, was the area that used to be the racehorse track for the rich and elite of society. During the war, that area had been turned into a prisoner of war camp for sick and captured Union soldiers. Nearing the end of the conflict, black slaves were forced on that site to bury hundreds of dead Union soldiers in mass graves. However, those recently freed slaves remembered those dead soldiers. On May 1, 1865, thousands of them gathered over the mass graves that they had been told to dig. They sang hymns, their preachers gave sermons and the people offered prayers dedicating that day as a day of remembrance. Over time, the day of remembrance has been renamed and moved around on the calendar, but it always is marked as a day to give thanks and prayer for the men and women who gave of their lives so that others might live.
This weekend is that time that we memorialize the men and women that gave of their lives so that others can live in freedom. These soldiers have fought in battles in times of declared wars and in times of so-called peace. They have fought on every land, over the seas and in the air. Through it all, they gave of their lives for others, loved ones and people they never even met. By that ultimate sacrifice they have given life, freedom and the possibilities of another day to so many others throughout the years.
Jesus says there is no greater gift than to lay down one’s life for others. Jesus himself knows even as he says that famous quote from John 15, that he is about to die so that all of humanity can live and have a place in God’s kingdom. As Christians, we celebrate this gift of our Savior, who by his sacrifice redeems us as children of God forever. In the same way, I encourage you this Memorial Day Weekend to remember to celebrate the sacrifice of the men and women who laid down their lives in service for others. Let us always give thanks and keep them in our prayers.
In the peace and grace of God,
Pastor Kirk Griffin