Pastor Nelson Bonilla: 5-26-24  “Memorial Day”

denrob14Events, News, News & Events, SermonsLeave a Comment

Hebrews 12:1-3

Usually, most people celebrate Memorial Day with barbecues in their back yards and parks and with family get-togethers making this day something of their joy; and by doing so, they forget what Memorial Day really means, a day to remember, to bring to our memory those women and men who with their ultimate sacrifice shaped the nation and helped us to be who we are now. Memorial Day is a moment to come together to remember all those men and women who gave their life defending a collective ideal.

Every nation in this world has the duty to remember and to pass to the next generation their achievements and triumphs for them to continue building over them. But it is also our duty to remember our failures for our next generations not to repeat them.      

The ability to remember is a wonderful gift given to us by our creator. In a fraction of a second with our memory, we can go to our childhood, we can go to time and places we were decades ago. Through memory we can live good moments again; we can remember events and faces of loved ones who are not among us anymore; with the power of our memories, we can smile or be sad with them, we can also weep as we remember them.

Memories are also very practical. If we could not remember that a red light means stop, we could be in trouble. If we were not able to remember our anniversary, or our spouse’s birthday, we could be in big trouble. The problem, though with people and nations, is that as we get older, memory fails us and we forget, and sometimes we need help to refresh our memories. That is the main reason for Holydays. Ever since Holidays were created, they have had the purpose to refresh our collective memory; they had the purpose to keep important events alive, events that built us, as group, as society; events that have shaped us and have helped us to be who we are. Memorial Day is one of them.

What we now know as Memorial Day, as you know, began as Decoration Day. A day for the nation to decorate with flowers the graves of those who died during the Civil War. Therefore, tomorrow millions of people will do that while others will go out to a park and have a picnic with their family. Tomorrow should be a day when all of us as a nation, regardless of our feelings toward war, or our political affiliation must identify with the grief of the widows and orphans of those whose lives were taken, and with those who survived; and as nation pay tribute and commit ourselves no to forget what they did and why they did it. It is our duty as a nation to our soldiers and families to remember that we are who we are because of their sacrifice and love for this country and its people.

Do you know that as Church, as God’s people we have the same duty with the fallen soldiers of the war between Good and Evil? Those men and women who gave their lives and those who spent their lives working for God and his Kingdom. God does not want us to forget what He has done for our benefit thru those women and men who were willing to obey and said, “Yes Lord, send me.”

Passover the first Holyday established by God was given to Israel to remember what God did to set Israel free from slavery. Every Passover Israel remembers a great soldier called Moses. Israel remembers his obedience and sacrifice to obey the Great I AM.

In today’s scripture the writer of Hebrews speak about the great cloud of witnesses. In chapter eleven he names some men and women and what they did by faith. They were people who sacrificed their lives for their willingness to obey God and to benefit others. The writer only mentions people from the Old Testament. However, after Jesus’ death and resurrection thousands of men and women gave their lives for preaching God’s Kingdom to those who did not know the good news of salvation through Jesus. 

 Brothers and sisters today that we are celebrating Memorial Day it is fair to remember some of these men and women. I share with you the testimony of some men and women who were killed for doing good; soldier of Jesus who suffered to bring us the message of love and reconciliation of Jesus to others, showing with their testimony commitment to Jesus and love for the lost.

Listen to Blandina’s testimony: An ancient letter that recorded the persecution in Lyons was included in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius the historian. The letter says: “While we were all trembling, and her earthly mistress, who was herself one of the contending martyrs was apprehensive because the weakness of the flesh, she should not be able to make a bold confession, Blandina was filled with such power, that her ingenious tormentors, who relieved and succeeded each other from morning till night, confessed that they were overcome and had nothing more that they could inflict upon her. They were amazed that she continued to breathe after her whole body was pierced and torn. In the midst of her sufferings, as she for a moment revived, she repeatedly exclaimed, ‘I am a Christian; no wickedness is carried on by us!” End of quote. Blandina honored her God by her faithfulness and courage in the face of danger and ultimately death. She and her contemporaries are memorialized by a marker at the place of their martyrdom in the ancient amphitheater. You can visit this marker in Lyons, France today.          

Listen to Polycarp of Smyrna: Polycarp was converted to Christianity by St. John the Evangelist. He was later ordained Bishop of Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey). He was about eighty-six when the Roman proconsul urged him to renounce Christ and save his life. Polycarp said, “For eighty-six years I have served him, and he has never wronged me. How can I renounce the King who has saved me?” After this he was burned to death.

Ignatius bishop of Antioch, He died a Martyr in Rome, devoured by two lions in one of the cruel demonstrations of Roman excess and animosity toward the true faith. Anticipating this event, he wrote these inspiring words to the church: “I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by the teeth of wild animals. I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God. No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. 

The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. End of his letter.

There are only three examples of hundreds of thousands of brothers and sisters who gave their lives for us to be able to listen and believe in Jesus. Tomorrow when we remember the names of those friends and relatives who gave their lives for the good of our country, let us also include the names of Christians that we know, who also spent their lives proclaiming salvation and love.

Have a blessed Memorial Day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *