Many view Memorial Day as simply an opportunity to have a three-day weekend and go to Lodi Lake. The very purpose has either been forgotten by some or never known by others.
After the Civil War, people in the South created special memorials to remember the southern soldiers who died. These were referred to as “Confederate Memorial Day.” In the North, they were called “Decoration Day,” and most Southerners did not recognize Northern celebrations as they honored Northern soldiers who died in the Civil War — or, as some called it, “The War of Northern Aggression.”
It was only after World War II that Memorial Day became a federal holiday intended to honor all fallen soldiers who gave their lives for their country. But sadly, this is lost on many of our citizens today.
In the Bible, there are a number of memorials. God gave Noah the rainbow in Genesis 9. To the children of Israel, God gave the Passover in Exodus 12.14. There are other memorials in the Bible, but the last is the most important.
Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper on the night before His death. The unleavened bread is His body and the fruit of the vine is the blood of the New Covenant (Matthew 26:26-28). We often refer to this as the Lord’s Supper, communion and sometimes the Eucharist. This Supper commemorates a number of things.
Jesus’ blood was shed on the cross “for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Therefore, we think of His suffering on the cross as He was crucified for our sins. He took our place, took on the penalty for our sins and redeemed us through His death. This is stated in Ephesians 1:7: “In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
As the Hebrew writers stated, without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (Hebrews 9:22).
Later on, Paul stated that as often as we drink this cup and eat this bread, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). In essence, this is a living memorial in that it looks back at Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins but recognizes the fact that Jesus lives today. He is in heaven and will return to take the faithful to heaven.
Just as it is important for us as a nation to never forget the sacrifice of our fallen comrades, it is important for us as Christians to never forget Jesus’ sacrifice, His authority today and His return in the future.
This memorial is to be observed by all Christians on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Unlike the Passover, which was observed only by the Jews, or “Decoration Day,” observed only by those in the North, this Supper is recognized by all Christians. We are unified in proclaiming Jesus’ death and His return. While there is only one Lord’s Supper, it is commemorated all over the world.
Chad Eric Donley is the preaching minister for the Ham Lane Church of Christ and the post chaplain for the American Legion Lodi Post 22.