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A Memorial Day Sermon – Lest We Forget

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” –Luke 22:19-20

Pete Hegseth was an infantry officer who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Having led men in combat, and trained them on tactics and strategy, he knows the debt of honor owed to his brothers in arms.

“Memorial Day isn’t just about honoring veterans, its honoring those who lost their lives. Veterans had the fortune of coming home. For us, that’s a reminder of when we come home, we still have a responsibility to serve. It’s a continuation of service that honors our country and those who fell defending it.”

People who are patriotic, people who have a grateful heart, want to remember those who gave their lives to give us a chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

When Americans remember those who have died in battle fighting for the United States, some historians begin technically and officially, with the Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn, and the Battle of Brooklyn Heights.

On August 27, 1776, the first major battle of the American Revolutionary War took place. It did not go well for the new army, under the command of General George Washington. The first three hundred brave, citizen-soldiers, died, a prelude to the multitudes who would eventually shed their blood, and pay the ultimate sacrifice in the service of this country.

The list of American conflicts, which have taken the lives of so many veterans, is long, and tragic. Statues, monuments, and markers do not adequately convey the courage, heroism, valor, or love of God and country by those who have perished.

Historians, oral traditions, photographs, diaries, letters, newspapers, and days like today must close the gap, to keep memories alive.

By remembering those who have died, we remember there are ideas and principles worth fighting for.

“Soldiers of the Revolutionary War, why do you fight?” Patrick Henry stands to say, “Give me liberty, or give me death.”

“Soldiers of the Civil War, why do you fight?”   On Thursday afternoon, November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, the Commander in Chief, who shed his own blood, stands to answer as the nation remembers the fallen soldiers of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. People listen to hear Lincoln say that,

“From these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

“Soldiers of the American Expeditionary Forces of World War I, why do you fight?” It is April 6, 1917.  The answer comes. “We fight to make the world safe for democracy.” A torch has been passed to us, to hold it high.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”

—John McCrae, May 1915

Flanders is located in the northern part of Belgium. There people died to make the world safe for democracy.

“Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! It is June 6 1944. Why do you fight?” The Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower speaks to those who are soon to storm the treacherous beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword in France.

“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”

Those incredible men of valor did storm the beaches of northern France for, “Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men.”—General George S. Patton

That which has been won by blood, sweat, and tears, must be protected.

Soldiers of the Korean War, why do you fight?” The year is 1950. The conflict will not end until 1953. “Why do you fight?” The answer comes. “We fight to finish what World War II failed to stop, the spread of Communism.” So, “Our nation honors her sons and daughter who answered the call to defend a country they never knew, and a people they never met.” (Korean Plague)

One of the great heroes of the Korean War was Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller (June 26, 1898 – October 11, 1971). Puller is the most decorated Marine in American history. He died in 1971 at the age of 73.

During one of his encounters with the enemy, as an inspirational leader of men, Chesty said about the enemy:

“All right. They’re on our left. They’re on our right. They’re in front of us, they’re behind us. They can’t get away this time’.” ― Jeff Shaara, quoting Colonel “Chesty” Puller

I tell you, conservative Americans must cling to our God, our guns, and our Bibles, in order to produce godly men, and brave warriors. Our nation still needs ….

“Fighting soldiers from the sky.
Fearless men, who jump and die.
Men who mean, just what they say,
The brave men, of the Green Beret.

Silver wings upon their chest.
These are men, Americas best.
One hundred men, will test today but
Only three, win the Green Beret.

Trained to live off natures land.
Trained in combat hand to hand.
Men who fight by night and day.
Courage take, from the Green Beret.

Silver wings upon their chest.
These are men, Americas best.
One hundred men will test today.
But only three, win the Green Beret.

Back at home, a young wife waits.
Her Green Beret has met his fate.
He has died for those oppressed
Leaving her this last request.

Put silver wings on my son’s chest
Make him one, of Americas best.
He’ll be a man they’ll test one day
Have him win the Green Beret.”

Barry Sadler, 1966

Now our passage in the Gospel of Luke, tells us about another brave young man who died for those oppressed by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Jesus was only 33 years old when He was unjustly taken, and nailed to a Cross outside of the city of Jerusalem.

Jesus anticipated His own death, and spoke of it often, “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Knowing how weak the heart of people can be, Jesus instituted a memorial service, and asked that His followers remember Him often.

Taking unleavened bread, Jesus gave thanks and broke it. He handed the bread to His disciples and said, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Then He took the cup and said, “This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” It is only right that the Church rises to pray and sing, pleading with the Spirit to lead us often to Calvary.

To Calvary we must go often in the memory of our minds, lest we forget the crown of thorns crushed on His sacred brow.

“King of my life, I crown Thee now,
Thine shall the glory be;
Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow,
Lead me to Calvary.

Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.

When we take communion often, we can ask the risen Lord to show us where they buried His broken body after it was taken down from the Cross.

“Show me the tomb where Thou wast laid,
Tenderly mourned and wept;
Angels in robes of light arrayed
Guarded Thee whilst Thou slept.”

When we remember the Lord’s death often, we can bring a gift of praise and thanksgiving to Jesus.

“Let me like Mary, through the gloom,
Come with a gift to Thee;
Show to me now the empty tomb,
Lead me to Calvary.”

If we were to remember the Lord’s death often, in Holy Communion, we might become willing to bear the Cross which all those who follow Jesus must learn to bear.

“May I be willing, Lord, to bear
Daily my cross for Thee;
Even Thy cup of grief to share,
Thou hast borne all for me.”

Jennie E. Hussey, 1921

There is an American Veteran’s Center that has as its logo, these words:

“GUARDING THEIR LEGACY.

HONORING THEIR SACRIFICE.”

In the act of taking Communion, the Church remembers the legacy of Jesus, and honors His sacrifice, until He comes again, the Second Time, for all who believe.

In the early Church, there was a Memorial Service held each week to remember Jesus.  This historical fact is recorded in the Didache, a document written about AD 120, the statement is made that Christians “come together each Lord’s day of the week, break bread, and give thanks” (7:14).

Justin Martyr (c. 152) also speaks of Christians meeting on Sunday, and partaking of the communion (Apology I, 67).

I have always recommended the same practice for the modern-day Church. It would please the Lord, and be a blessing to any congregates.

But for now, lest we forget, we call attention to the fact that there is a Memorial Day for Fallen Veterans, and there is a Memorial Day Service for the Greatest Warrior in history who died, only to live again.

The question comes, “Do you know Jesus as the Warrior who died to slay the Dragon that is making war with you?” If not, come to Jesus and ask Him to make you free.

Or come, and ask Jesus to heal your diseases and touch your body. Whatever your need, come to Jesus.

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