Many of us here in the United States have a "day off" today so that we might remember those who have died, especially in service to country. The holiday began as Decoration Day and was a day of remembrance of those persons who died in the Civil War. It was a day decorate the graves of the fallen. Over time as more wars were added to the American experience, the purpose of the day expanded to include those who had fallen in other wars.
Memorial Day continues to lift up those who have died, but it has taken on a broader cultural dynamic. It is the unofficial beginning of summer. School is out or will be out soon. Vacations are being embarked upon. We barbecue/grill burgers and chicken and maybe buy furniture (at least that's what the advertisements hope we'll do). You might even do some yard work that needs attending to! Oh, and Cheryl and I might go to the new Star Trek movie. It is, therefore, a day to have a bit of fun (so why am I blogging? -- It's a habit).
But back to the meaning of the day. We're invited to remember those who have passed on from this life. I've always tried to think of it in broader terms than simply those who have died in wars. It is good for us to remember our ancestors, those persons who no longer walk with us, people who have influenced our lives for the better. Perhaps it is a parent or grandparent, a teacher, a neighbor. As a pastor I remember those who have died in the past year, whose contributions to the life of the congregation will be missed greatly.
So, perhaps we can pause for a moment and offer a word of prayer:
You are our creator. Before all things began, you were there.
You are the holder of all memories.
All those whom we love who no longer walk with us, they are present with you.
Rekindle in our hearts and our minds their memories,
so that living in the present, we can remember and honor their lives.
Rekindle in our hearts and minds the lessons and examples that our beloved ones left us,
so that we might live faithful and productive lives in the present and in the future.
May these memories be a blessing to us now and forevermore.
And may we also remember Jesus, who gathered his disciples, gave them a meal, and said:
Do this in remembrance of Me.
May this memory become alive in us once again.