In the center of a far away village, I am told, stands a huge white monument placed on a concrete slab. It is very impressive. But if you walk around the base, you will find no inscription. If you ask any of the citizens, no one seems to know why the monument was erected. Old-timers can’t remember, and the young were never told.
Strange- a monument to nothing! A memorial that has no memory or meaning whatsoever! Life is short, and our memory is even shorter. We come into this world, and in a few short years we leave this world, and within two or three generations our name is no longer remembered.
Formerly known as “Decoration Day,” Memorial Day was first enacted to honor both Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War, a war that tragically divided this nation, and still does to this day in some circles. But today, so it seems, the true meaning of Memorial Day has become lost in a flurry of activities to best suit the pleasures of the masses. To a large segment of the population, the significance of Memorial Day is that it is the kickoff to summer vacation.
I have visited many memorials. In a town where we pastored in southern Oregon, there is the old pioneer cemetery that reached back into the wild west days. We visited the World War II memorial in Manila that told the story of a terrible war that took place all over the globe. We have stood before several “walls” with thousands of names engraved- men and women who sacrificed their lives for freedom in Vietnam, Korea, and other places.
But I find the most unusual memorial of all in scripture. It is a memorial that has endured time like no other memorial. More people have visited and continue to visit this memorial than any other in history. It is not made of marble. Nor is it made by human hands. But it is so real and so meaningful and brings so much joy that often times it is not even looked upon as a memorial, but a feast- a celebration of life!
Jesus admonishes us to not forget to remember. He says, “Each time you drink this cup, remember Me. What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt” (I Corinthians 11:23-24).
I eagerly look forward to the next time I observe this celebration of life with fellow believers. I will intentionally remember all my Lord has done for me. That will be the real Memorial Day!