Memorial Day also a time for remembering Jesus

Voices of Religion

Posted: Friday, May 28, 2004

A few years ago, I went back home for a high school reunion. Home for me is Forestville, Conn., a small town abutting Bristol, where I lived until I left for college.

When I lived there, Bristol was not known for anything special, but today it's known as the home of ESPN.

I had not been back to Connecticut for a number of years, and of course I was shocked at the changes that had taken place over the intervening years.

The Forestville Boys' Club, where I spent countless hours playing basketball, ping-pong and pool, was now just a vacant building with weeds growing around it.

The old library was gone and the Nye Insurance Agency, where my friend, Bill Nye, had lived, obviously had changed hands.

Turning down Washington Avenue, the memories really came flooding back to the many times my friends and I had ridden our bikes up and down the main thoroughfare of our small community.

Turning right onto Pleasant Avenue, a lump came to my throat as I looked at the first house on the left. Even though it had been years since I had lived there, it was still "my house."

I recall a very old song that says, "Precious memories, how they linger. How they ever flood my soul ..."

What a wonderful thing this mind of ours is.

Even though things happened years ago, we still have memories lodged in our mind. Again the words from a song of yesteryear is brought to mind: "And they can't take that away from me."

On Monday, we celebrate Memorial Day. In our nation's capital a new monument will be dedicated, and if you've ever been to Washington, D.C., you know there are many memorials.

There is the majestic Washington Monument, the massive Jefferson Memorial, the stately Lincoln Memorial, the solemn Vietnam Wall and the beautiful Roosevelt fountains.

This new memorial is dedicated to the World War II veterans. I'm sure there will be many thousands on hand for its dedication because the tickets have been sold out for many months.

The question arises as to why these memorials are built and visited. The answer is that, although we have the awesome ability to remember, we also have the ability to forget. All of the memorials are simply reminders to help us not forget the events and people who are represented there.

The freedom we experience each day in the United States was purchased at a tremendous price. Many people have died that I might live the enviable life of a U.S. citizen. I must not ever forget that.

Even though I was just a baby at the close of World War II, I must never forget the price that was paid by the men and women who freely gave their lives to preserve freedom for our country and for the countries of the world.

Likewise, on the spiritual side of my life, I can never forget the price that Jesus paid so that I can be free from the slave master of sin.

Jesus purchased my freedom on the cross. He knew about our propensity to forget, so he instituted what we call "The Lord's Supper" or Communion.

Why do we partake in such? Simple! It's so we won't forget. Because we are human, time erases many memories. Generations later, even monumental events can be totally forgotten. We need memorials in our lives to help us to remember, always.

So, as we celebrate Memorial Day on Monday, let it be more than a day off from work. Let it be more than a picnic.

Instead, let's take a little time to pause and remember the great price that has been paid not only for our physical freedom but for our spiritual freedom as well.

Stuart Churchill is the senior pastor of the Kenai United Pentecostal Church, at Mile 16.5 of the Kenai Spur Highway.

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