by Beverly Ward
May 28, 2022
The History: Tomorrow we recognize Memorial Day 2022 as a time to honor and remember U.S. soldiers who died in battle defending our freedoms. The origins of Memorial Day are somewhat unclear with over twenty-four towns claiming to be the place of the original celebration. Perhaps this came about because, prior to the establishment of Memorial Day, there were many different days designated to commemorate soldiers lost in various wars. In 1966, President Lynden Johnson took matters in hand and officially declared Waterloo New York the birthplace of Memorial Day, then called Decoration Day. The traditions of Memorial Day and the holiday itself grew from the hearts of American people, who grieving the losses of their husbands, sons, and brothers in the Civil War, sought a permanent place of remembrance in our hearts and on our calendars. Moina Michael appointed the red poppy as delegate when she wrote and we embraced, the idea that "We cherish too, the Poppy red That grows on fields where valor led, It seems to signal to the skies That blood of heroes never dies."
From Science: Memorializing and mourning are indelible to humanity. Patterns of grief and rituals of remembrance have developed universally across cultures, when people love and lose, they grieve and where we grieve, we create means to remember. Elizabeth Kubler Ross brought grief to the scientific community and employed the methods of science to help us understand it better. Her work revealed that there is a pattern seen in humans when we grief. She established five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. She found that people seem to experience each of these stages, but not necessarily sequentially. When in grief, we may jump from one stage to another, either forward or backward until the intensity of the grief lessens. While we usually come to a place of acceptance, we may never stop missing the loved one we lost, we just learn to accept and manage. Memorializing one we miss can help us gain a sense of closure and a feeling of connectedness to them. Although all people die, love never dies and memorializing helps us to express our love in an ongoing way as we experience it eternally it in our hearts.
From Scripture: Throughout scripture we see God leading us to memorialize those things dear and sacred. In Genesis, He gave us the rainbow as a memorial of His covenant with Noah. In Joshua, He gave us the Stones of Remembrance the Israelites took from the Jordan River. In John we are given the Dove as a remembrance of His Holy Spirit. In Luke, He gave us the Eucharist, the bread for His body and the wine for His blood, that we may always have His victory with us and in us. For reasons fully understood only by Him, His abiding with us is a part of memorializing.
Jesus lost his cousin and a man he greatly admired when John the Baptist was beheaded, he said of John, "among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist", (Matthew 11:11). John and Jesus went way back. John was the first to experience the Joyful news of the savior's arrival. Mary, Jesus' mom, and Elizabeth, John's mom, were cousins. After Gabriel showed up to let Mary know she was presently carrying in her womb the Son of God, she packed up and headed out of town. (Maybe she thought, 'I'm going to need a minute'). She went to stay with Elizabeth, and when Mary spoke the story of her pregnancy to her cousin, John (still nestled in Elizabeth's womb, but with ears to hear and heart to understand), leaped at the sound of Mary's voice. "When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him. And she exclaimed loudly, “Blessed [worthy to be praised] are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy" (Luke 11:41-44 AMP).
In the years between the leap and the chop, we don't know much about either Jesus or John the Baptist. We do know that, when He learned that John had died, Jesus withdrew to a solitary place. Both physically and psychologically, grief often draws us, for a time, to a solitary place. God created us for relationship and grief is the costs of love. God promises to be with us in our grief, 'He is near to the broken hearted and binds our wounds'. Jesus has grieved, and you can count on Him to minister to you when grief has broken your heart.
Action Plan: On Memorial Day 2022, we are still reeling from the casualties of another kind of war which brought the massacre of students and teachers at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. While we make every effort to fight back with enhanced safety measures, and education about urban warfare, let us also fight in prayer. "In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. So stand firm and hold your ground, having [a]tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having [b]strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. Above all, lift up the [protective] [c]shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all [d]God’s people" (Ephesians 6:10-18).
If you are a mom or know a mom who wants to fight in prayer for our schools and our children, please consider finding or sharing information about Mom's in Prayer International (MIP). Most likely, there is a MIP group in your community, anyone can find a group at the website: https://momsinprayer.org/
"Can God Handle your Broken Heart?" by Pastor Steve Furtick