By Daniel H. King
May 30th is observed here in the United States as a legal holiday commemorating our service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We must not forget that the freedom from tyranny and individual pursuit of life, liberty and happiness here in this wonderful land have come to us through the sacrifices of others. Memorial Day is a time set aside in our yearly calendar of events for reflection upon the greatest gift that another could ever give – his life.
Lest we forget them, we pause from our daily chores to think about who they were and what they did. Then we go back to being who we are and doing what we do. But because they have a memorial day and we have paused long enough to remember them, they can never be as those whom the wise man of old described in his sagely but depressing remarks: “And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born” (Ecclesiastics 44:7-9). As a grateful people ought, we thank God for them and their selfless love.
God has ever recognized man’s need for such reminders. Religious praxis is replete with examples. The Hebrew nation remembered yearly the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery at the commemoration of Passover. The Feast of Tabernacles was a symbolic recollection of the days of tent-dwelling, before Israel was given a land of her own. Every week the Israelites celebrated God’s work of creation on the Sabbath, resting as he did on the seventh day.
Christians have such a day. We call it Sunday, but they referred to it unpretentiously as “the first day of the week” (Lk. 24:1; Acts 20:7). It crowns each and every week, similarly keeping pious believers in memory of the most marvelous sacrifice ever made for mortal man. And, in spite of what some think, it is not a time merely for rest or relaxation, that is to say, for fishing, golfing and recreation . It is a time for memorializing and remembering.
On the night of his betrayal, Jesus took the bread and fruit of the vine and blessed them and gave them to his disciples. “This do in remembrance of me,” he said. The early Christians did just that. They partook of these simple emblems of Christ’s death and so remembered him every week. Paul waited seven days at Troas to sit down at the table of the Lord with fellow believers (Acts 20:6-7). When the day came, he was there with them in communion with Christ. Faithful followers of Christ do the same today.
They may make this day one for visiting with friends and relatives, or even for recreating, but only after they have first paused to reflect and remember the Lord’s death in his memorial Supper. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:25-26)
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 18, p. 548
September 21, 1989