Today’s Word from Pastor Jim… 

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”

Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868. The country was still reeling from the staggering devastation of the Civil War.

Americans died at an alarming rate in the Civil War. On September 17, 1862, at the Battle of Antietam—there were 15,000 casualties– in the first 8 hours. At Gettysburg in July of 1864, 7,863 American soldiers were killed in three days of warfare. The numbers are staggering, especially when we consider that there were only 31 million people living in the United States during the Civil War- less than one tenth of the current US population. No community, indeed, hardly a single family was left unscarred.

In May of 1868, it was hoped that Memorial Day would help to heal a broken country. A country that had sacrificed an entire generation of its young men. That first Memorial Day was set aside to decorate the graves of the soldiers and to keep their memory alive. One hundred and fifty-six years later we are still burying our war dead. We are still honoring their sacrifice and memory on this Memorial Day Weekend.
How can we truly honor the sacrifice of someone who gave their very life for us? What tribute could we offer to parents whose daughters and sons were cut down in the prime of life?

During the First World War, Ernest Hemingway was too young for the military, so he volunteered to serve in Italy as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross. In June 1918, while running a mobile canteen dispensing chocolate and cigarettes for soldiers, he was wounded by Austrian mortar fire. The great world war would become known as “the war to end all war” so horrific were the battles, so devasting to all of humanity. On Monday, May 26, 1919, our nation once again observed Memorial Day. Grieving citizens gathered around freshly dug graves, silent crosses in Europe marked the final resting place of a new generation of patriots.

Unfortunately, the waring madness would not cease with the war to end all war. The lessons of World War 1 would be followed a generation later with a second World War. Some years later Ernest Hemingway, the great American author and firsthand witness to the horrors of war would pen these words:

“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”

How can we honor the fallen heroes who have given us freedom? Would a day off from work be sufficient? Would a beach walk or a picnic or baseball game be the best way to pay them back for giving their lives for us? Or might they appreciate it more if their sacrifice had indeed brought an end to warfare? With their dying breath would they pray for a holiday in their honor, or might they pray that no one would ever have to experience what they had experienced?

“And how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, and how many deaths will it take ’til he knows
That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.” Bob Dylan

I wish you a most blessed holiday. I pray that you might take a moment this weekend to offer a prayer for peace in our troubled world. I would also invite you to join me at a Memorial Day service on Monday, May 27 at 11 a.m. at the Clinton Cemetery at Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church.

One beggar telling another where to find bread, I am your

Pastor Jim

If you would like to email Pastor Jim direct please send a note to: [email protected]