Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum

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Milford, Connecticut, United States

Bible Verse of the Day

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Greatest Sacrifice

What is Memorial Day? It is a legal holiday the last Monday in May in memory of the dead service personnel of all the wars. Unfortunately, to many people, Memorial Day is just the third day of a holiday weekend that sort of begins the summer season. It is a time for people to get together with family and friends, open the pool or put in the boat, and cook a meal on the grill. All those things are fine in and of themselves but like other special days such as Christmas and Easter we should pause and reflect upon the true meaning of the holiday.

In just this century alone there have been two World Wars in addition to the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf Wars and many other conflicts. In these wars many people have died in service for our country. The soldiers, sailors and marines who died sacrificed themselves for others. Along with suffering and dying a violent death they gave up two thirds to three quarters of their lives along with their dreams, hopes and plans. All of these people were someone's loved ones and friends. Let us remember them and their families. Their loved ones also experienced loss. They lost the time they would have shared with these people and everything that goes along with a lifetime of experiences. People may quickly forget the death of someone who was just a statistic but their families miss them at holidays and other special events including their birthdays.

Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). It has been said that soldiers ultimately die not so much for their country but for their comrades. Jesus did what he said is the greatest act of love; he laid down his life for us. Who are the friends of Jesus? He answered this in the next verse which reads, "You are my friends if you do what I command" (v. 14). This may sound like we are only his friends if we do what he expects of us but we should remember what his disciple John wrote about obedience: "This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands" (1 John 5:2-3). True love is more than mere words--it involves actions. If we love God and others we will show it by deeds.

The amazing thing about Christ's sacrifice is that he did this before we knew him: "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).

Jesus was "the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). There is a parallel between Jesus' death which is remembered whenever we participate in communion and Memorial Day. In both cases we should take the time to pause and remember the sacrifice that was made for us. We should also sacrifice ourselves either by giving of our lives through service to others in our country or in the Church.

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