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On Memorial Day, remember those who have died

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“Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I’m telling you: ‘Where I go, you are not able to come.’ “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.” – John 13:33-35.

Memorial Day often is referred to as the start of summer vacation, and Labor Day marks the end.

Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day commemorates United States soldiers who died while in the military service. Several sources indicate that in the last 100 years alone, more then 600,000 men and women have given their lives so that we may live in freedom.

Begun as a ritual of remembrance and reconciliation after the Civil War, by the early 20th century, Memorial Day became an occasion for more general expressions of memory.

We, as ordinary people, started visiting the graves of our deceased relatives, whether they had served in the military or not. And, it has also become a long weekend – increasingly devoted to shopping, family get-togethers in the backyard, fireworks, trips to the beach and national media events such as the Indianapolis 500 auto race, held since 1911 on or near Memorial Day.

Is it really just a three-day weekend at the beginning of summer? Or, are we giving lip service to the original meaning of Memorial Day?

I suspect you would agree that Memorial Day is a time to memorialize those who are no longer with us, because in the course of our life we come across many people. We remember some and forget the others. But in our forgetfulness, we are to always show love to others based on Jesus’ sacrificial and unconditional love toward us. To love others is not a new commandment, but to love others as much as Christ loved others becomes revolutionary.

Love is more than simply a warm feeling. It is an every day attitude that reveals itself in action. By helping when it’s not convenient, by giving when it hurts, by devoting energy to others’ welfare rather than our own, by absorbing hurts from others without complaining or fighting back. This kind of love is sacrificial and unconditional … examples that love lives forever.

As we commemorate Memorial Day on Monday, remember the many who fought and the One who died for our freedom. The greatest freedom that we have is not the freedom of speech or the press nor from slavery – the greatest freedom of all, is the freedom to die. For when one is free to die, that person is finally free to live … in eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Love lives forever and our love comes from the very core nature of God who knows the plan for us now and in the future. Please take a moment in silence to pray, to mourn and to remember … God’s love lives forever.

Dr. Miller is the pastor of Later @ St. Luke’s, a multicultural Sunday 6 p.m. worship service at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th St. Contact her at (317) 846-3404 or millerm@stlukesumc.com.

 

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