Memorial to Help Us Remember

Memorial to Help Us Remember

By definition, we establish a memorial to help us remember certain essential things. Memorials are very much a part of Christianity and of the history of Israel. Members of different denominations have instituted all kinds of special days and given them spiritual significance. In reality, those days are not found in the Bible, and there is no biblical command to observe them. Perhaps God knew that humans would corrupt special days and forget their significance and message. Christmas is an example of that.

In Exodus 3:15, God told Moses that the exodus from Egypt would be a “memorial to all generations.” Jesus spoke in Mathew 26:13 of a memorial for the woman who anointed him for burial. In Luke 22:19-20, Jesus gave His followers the one special memorial to observe. Early Christians met on the first day of every week to remember Christ’s body “which is given for you” as they ate the bread and drank the fruit of the vine–“the new testament in my blood which is shed for you.” Even though Jesus gave us this memorial to help us remember, it was very quickly corrupted. In 1 Corinthians 11:20-34, we read that it had become a drunken feast in the Corinthian church. The memorial’s purpose was lost because they were “not discerning the Lord’s body” (verse 29). Paul goes on in this description to say, “this is why many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (verse 30).

Today in the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day. The last Monday in May was made a national holiday in 1971 to honor the memory of those who died to defend America from those who would try to destroy us. It seems that each year there is more emphasis on this day being the “unofficial first day of summer” with little emphasis on its intended meaning. Like the words of 1 Corinthians 11, this day has become a drunken feast for many, and our population is weak and sickly as a result. Many of us are more concerned with Memorial Day sales and, in 2020, how to celebrate without getting the virus than with pausing to give thanks for America and for those who died to preserve it.

As Christians, we have one special memorial to help us remember the sacrifice Jesus made. Even as we stop every week to remember what Jesus did for us, we must develop an attitude of gratitude. As we thank God who sent His Son to die for our salvation, we should also remember those who died to keep us free to worship in this country.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Memorial Day in the United States

Memorial Day in the United StatesToday is Memorial Day in the United States. While many people think it is just the beginning of the summer recreational season, it is much more than that. Memorial Day is of extreme patriotic significance, and the concept has biblical origins.

The Memorial Day tradition in this country began after the Civil War when people placed memorials and held services for the 20,000 soldiers killed in the war. It was originally held on May 30 and called “Decoration Day.” In 1967 Congress changed the official name to Memorial Day, and in 1971 changed it to the last Monday in May. Those of us who served in the military are always amazed to find how many people have already forgotten the wars that we were forced to participate in to preserve freedom. American ignorance of the 38th parallel, Bay of Pigs, Viet Nam, etc. is depressing. We too quickly forget the sacrifice people made to keep us free.

In the Christian faith, there is great emphasis on memorial activities. The communion service is a memorial. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24). REMEMBRANCE is the first of three things we see in the biblical instruction about the communion service, and our country’s Memorial Day carries the same ideal. It is essential for us to remember what Jesus did for us both in terms of how we live and our eternal existence with God.

The second purpose of communion and which should e applied to Memorial Day in America is PROCLAMATION. In 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “We proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again.” The Christian communion is not just communing with God, but it is also a proclamation to each other and to the world that our spiritual identity is with Jesus Christ. We proclaim vertically to God and horizontally to each other.

The third purpose the Bible gives us for communion is SELF EXAMINATION. First Corinthians 11:28 tells us to examine ourselves. We need to do that regularly. Am I growing? Am I stronger? Am I learning? Throughout the Bible, we see God calling people to memorials. In Exodus 12:13-14 and 13:9-10, God tells ancient Israel to engage in a memorial of all they have been through and how God has blessed them.

On Memorial Day in the United States of America, we should thank God for the freedom we have and the people who have protected that freedom. In this time of national and international conflict and uncertainty, it is vital that we remember who we are and what we believe.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Jewish Feasts and Thanksgiving

Jewish Feasts and Thanksgiving
There are seven feasts that God told the ancient Israelite nation to observe. What is interesting is that the purpose of each one of these is similar to what Christians engage in and for the same reasons. You can see the connection between the Jewish feasts and Thanksgiving.

Take a look at these seven feasts and how we have the same needs:

1-The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Or Passover). Leviticus 23:5, Exodus 23:15, and Numbers 28:16-25. This feast celebrated the historical deliverance from Egypt. Our 4th of July originally had a similar purpose. The Lord’s Supper also remembers deliverance from sin – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

2-The Feast of Weeks or Harvest. Exodus 23:16 and 34:22 and Numbers 28:26. It was later known as Pentecost because it was celebrated on the 50th day from the Sabbath beginning the Passover. It was a time to remember the blessing of having grain crops. By the way, our first Thanksgiving occurred on the same date as Thanksgiving 2018 – November 22. The Plymouth Colonists and Wampanoag Indians celebrated it on that date in 1621. First Corinthians 16:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 express a similar joy at the blessings of God.

3-The Feast of Tabernacles (or Feast of Booths or Ingathering). Leviticus 23:34-43, Deuteronomy 16:13-15, and Numbers 29:12-38. This feast celebrated the harvesting of fruit from trees. Our Thanksgiving had a similar origin. (See number 2.)

4-Feast of the Sabbath – or Sabbath of Rest. Leviticus. 23:2-3 and Isaiah 58:13. It was a solemn assembly of thanking God for the nation of Israel. Our Independence day is similar.

5-Day of Blowing Trumpets. Numbers 29:1 and Leviticus 23:24. It was a sabbath and a memorial to celebrate the nation. Our Veterans Day and our Memorial Day are similar.

6-Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23:26-31 and Exodus 30:10. On the 10th day of the 7th month observed once a year a day Israel focused on individual personal sin and making atonement for that sin. Our Lord’s Supper has a connection to that concept every week, and 1 John 1:5-10 tells us that as Christians our atonement is continuous.

7-Feast of Purim. Esther 9:18-32 – This was a celebration established by Mordecai to celebrate the deliverance from Haman similar to our Memorial Day.

Israel had specific feasts to lift and remind their thinking to have an attitude of gratitude for all the blessing they had received. Shouldn’t we have that same spirit as we celebrate Thanksgiving? Romans 1:18-22 describes the enemies of God, and one of the indicators of their antagonism to God was that they were not thankful.

The connection between the Jewish feasts and Thanksgiving are evident. Make Thanksgiving special this year by expressing your sincere thanks for all the blessings God has given.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Memorial Day Remembering

Memorial Day Remembering
God has always called us to pay attention to what has happened in the past. It is important for all of us to spend some time remembering how we got where we are. In the United States, we pause on the last Monday in May for Memorial Day remembering the sacrifices that others have made so that we can be free.

The celebration of this day began right after the American Civil War when people realized the carnage and sacrifice that had taken place. In the past, we put great emphasis on remembering the blessings that loved ones gave us by their sacrifice in wars with foreign powers. We visit graves and decorate them to emphasize that remembrance. In recent years, our secular society has drifted away from that emphasis. There has been a reduction in parades and services and an increase in recreational events. Instead of a time for remembering, Memorial Day has become a commercial promotion of the beginning of the summer season.

In the Old Testament, a great many holidays, feasts, and celebrations called ancient Israel to remember their blessings. As the New Testament came into existence, there was a whole new system of emphasis on remembering. God’s relationship was no longer with one nation and one system of living. Jesus called all nations to unity and oneness. Paul stated it this way: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28).

The importance of remembering the basis of our freedom and our oneness was not lost when Jesus established the Lord’s Supper recorded in Matthew 26:26-29. The purpose was to establish a continuing memorial. Paul described it in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. He quoted Jesus as saying, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.”

The change in Americans and their Memorial Day remembering should remind us of how easy it is to forget the blessings we have and to take them for granted. It is important for Americans to remember the past and to be thankful for those who died to make freedom possible. For Christians, it is important to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made to free us from sin. It reminds us that Christ gives us peace and confidence as we face the trials of life.
–John N. Clayton © 2017