Pastor’s Thoughts June 1st, 2023

Pastor’s Thoughts Memorial Day is here. It is typical at this time of year to be thinking about, and acting on, all of the warm weather activities and events that we in this part of the country enjoy for the short span of time we get to enjoy them. We think of planting flowers, maybe corn, tomatoes, and other plants. We think of longer, warmer days. We think of outdoor activities like baseball, auto racing, picnics, car shows, craft shows, outdoor music festivals, and just being outside enjoying the sunshine.
But please remember that we have this holiday, this Memorial Day, to spur us to remember the very reason that we can enjoy all of those things, and so much more.
We live in a nation that could well be the greatest nation to have been established to date. Yes, I am quite aware that we have a multitude of issues that need to be addressed, but the fact is that we are, in many measurable ways, still far ahead of the rest of the world. We have freedoms that others in the world simply do not have.
Freedom, however, isn’t simply granted, it doesn’t come without a struggle. Memorial Day was first established to recognize those that fought in the Civil War, specifically, to remember those that gave their lives to ensure freedom for all in the country and to keep the country from a permanent split. We owe those that died in that war, and the many that have died since in other wars and battles, a great debt. It is because of the ultimate sacrifice made by them that we are able to continue to enjoy our freedoms.
As Christians, we owe a debt to the many of the faith that were persecuted and martyred in the years and centuries past. It is because of their faith in the face of that persecution that we can draw inspiration and deepen our own faith. It is because of those sacrifices that we can find the strength to continue on the path that the Spirit is leading us in. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2) 
That “great cloud of witnesses” are the saints that came before us. It is not that they are watching us (they aren’t) but because they have shown us what can be done if we are willing to follow the path put before us. Just as we honor those that fought and died for our freedoms by exercising those freedoms, we honor our predecessors in the faith by exercising our faith.
As we remember and honor those that have fallen in uniform this Memorial Day, let us also remember and honor those that have shown us the way of the faith and were persecuted and died as a result. Happy Memorial Day.