How many times have I left the house without my wallet, or left my phone in the car? I’ll be walking with my wife into the store, & she’ll ask, “Did you lock the car?” And I start questioning myself until I go back & check. Or she’ll bring up some conversation from a week ago, & I don’t have a clue what she’s talking about. I tell her, “I’ve slept since then.” Or worse, she’ll bring up the time I forgot to pick up our young son from the community center. One time, I introduced myself to a man at church, & asked for his name. He said, “You were just at my house last night!” That’s embarrassing!
It’s easy to forget. That’s why we need reminders-datebooks, alarms, post-it notes, & digital notifications. Yet, most things aren’t worthy of remembrance. 99% of what’s newsworthy today isn’t tomorrow, let alone next year. Each week, I invest many hours into preparing Sunday messages that I hope will instruct, inspire & help people…yet knowing that most of what I preach will be forgotten quickly. But my hope is that they’ll remember something!
Some things do need to be remembered. So we establish memorials for those things. That’s why we need Memorial Day. So many have forgotten those who have fought & died in our nation’s wars. They’ve forgotten what those wars were fought for & why it was important to fight, or that there even was such a war. Still, even with an annual reminder, many forget what Memorial Day is about. They may recognize it only as the beginning of summer, a day to grill out, do outdoor projects, or (where I grew up in Indianapolis) a day to watch (or listen to because I was close enough to hear) cars drive around a track 200 times.
I recall Memorial Day, 2011, I was invited to speak & pray at the dedication of the Trenton War Memorial at the Public Library by one of our church members & Vietnam vet, John Craven, who was heading up the project. I said: “The monument being dedicated today serves as a reminder that some have laid down their lives for us. For those names on this monument, they gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. They are worth remembering. May this monument dedicated today act as a reminder for their sacrifices for this, and future generations to come.”
Throughout the Bible, God’s people are instructed to stop & recall what He did for them because God knows it’s easy to forget. That’s why He gave us reminders. He instituted festivals & meals to mark important events like the Passover. He instructed people to set up piles of stone as memory markers, like when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. He called for the public reading of Scripture so people would remember all God had done for them.
But the most well-known memorial He’s given us is called “The Lord’s Supper,” or “Communion.” It’s a simple meal that followers of Jesus Christ share regularly to remember His sacrifice. He said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” So as we eat the bread we remember His body broken for us…as we drink from the cup, we remember His blood shed for us-the ultimate sacrifice He made to save us (John 15:13). It’s one of the Church’s most sacred moments. At our church, we share in it every week to honor Him & reflect on what He did for us-because it’s important. But it’s also a reminder of the hope we have that because He rose, we will never truly die! That’s why crosses decorate tombstones-it’s not just a memorial of death, but a marker of hope.
It’s easy to forget & take for granted the rights & blessings we enjoy that come from God & are maintained by those in the United States military who have given or are willing to give their lives to protect our freedom of religion, speech & assembly. Since it’s important to be intentional about remembering the important things, why not make it a point to gather in church this Sunday to thank God & share in communion? Then on Monday, say a prayer for peace & protection on those who are protecting us.