On Memorial Day, American citizens honor those who died while serving in our nation’s armed forces. For some, it is a day of celebration of patriotism and an occasion for gathering with friends and family. They may celebrate freedoms that remain because men and women died while protecting them. For others, Memorial Day is a day of reflection about the meaning of sacrifice and ser…vice. Jesus noted, foreshadowing his own sacrificial death by crucifixion, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Good Soldiers, whether in the nation’s service, or in that of the Lord, devote themselves to seeking the safety and welfare of others. We who survive the fray appreciate the sacrifice made by those who did not. Their deaths remind us of the commitment required to protect important principles. Memorial Day is also a day for lament. We mourn our loss: Fathers, sisters, uncles, daughters who no longer brighten our day with their humor or listen to us when no one else will. We ponder how history would have differed had they lived. Would Joseph Kennedy, Jr. have been elected President rather than his brother John if Joseph had not died during World War II? What would my life or my cousin’s life have been like if my uncle had not been killed in Vietnam? We weep for the lost opportunities, the shattered dreams, and the never-realized loves. We lament also the horror caused by the hatred, selfishness, and greed that often spark human conflicts that escalate into war. So, as Christians, even while some of us serve with awareness that we too may die in the service of our country, we must remember that we are called to be ministers of reconciliation who seek peace (2 Corinthians 5:18). We must remember that while we enjoy the aroma and flavors of a Memorial Day barbecue, others still grieve the laugh and the voice they will never hear again. Comfort those who mourn. Remember those who have perished. Resolve to live well for God and in service of others.
There is a brother in MI that is struggling to find work as a preacher. He posts every now and again on FB. I feel for that brother, and since I have a heart for his struggle, a thought entered into my mind about the “hiring” and “firing” of preachers. As it turned out my opinion, shared with another, did not hold sway, though the brother was sympathetic to my lament. Preachers are a “dime a dozen” (so to speak), and churches can have the men parade through, and pick them off as if at a shooting gallery.
Challenge, if a man had a background as Paul did, how many churches would have “hired” him? Would you be part of those churches that would shy away?
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Matthew 23:37-39, ASV).
Jesus, during the last week of His life on this earth, speaks these words because of an anguished heart. For three years He had been preaching the message of God, both in Jerusalem and in the extended areas. And for three years His message was spurned by the masses. Certainly it was not because His word did not warrant acceptance, rather it was because His word was contrary to preconceived notions. These preconceived notions and the subsequent rejection of the message of God brought God’s wrath upon Jerusalem.
Jerusalem and the Israelite nation was the “chosen” of God. But the nation Israel had fulfilled its purpose, now the purposes of God had gone beyond that. When God chose Israel it was because through them the promised Savior would come into the world. Into the world He came and many people wanted nothing to do with Him. But, whether rejected or accepted, Jesus is the chosen of God. Will we accept God’s chosen?