The Torch of Freedom Is Now Yours
Roughly 1.1 million Americans have died in the many battles fought on our soil and abroad. The American Civil War alone — from which Memorial Day was birthed — accounts for nearly half of that total. Each service person who dies in battle leaves behind a family member, a friend, a colleague who will mourn the loss of their loved one. The service person also bequeaths the torch of freedom — the same torch they picked up from their predecessors — for the rest of us to hold high and move forward.
Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those who have died in battle. We thank the Lord for those who have given their lives in defense of our country and the citizens who comprise it. While that is essential, Memorial Day is really much more than that. This “remembering” also serves as a reminder to us, who are still living, of the responsibility we have to carry forward the legacy they died to protect.
One of the more meaningful, and often overlooked, traditions on Memorial Day is the lowering of the American flag to half-mast in memory of those who’ve fallen. At noon, this same flag is raised to full mast by the living, who resolve to not let the sacrifice of the fallen be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
Hebrews 12:1-2 states, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith.”
There is a calling for us all to not simply rest on the laurels of the past but to press on — even though the human system is flawed — with perseverance until the end. It is then that our gratitude becomes more than simply lip service. It becomes thankfulness in action.
- Lord, we thank You for each and every service person who has laid down their life for the values and the principles we stand upon today – in a country You have established from the beginning. (Lift anyone up, by name, where possible.)
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
- God, we ask You to pour out Your grace, comfort, and healing for the families who are left behind. (Lift them up by name where possible.) May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to your servant. Psalm 119:76
- We pray for perseverance among all of Your people, Lord, to run the race marked out for us with reckless abandon compelled by Christ’s love. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
- We declare that this generation and the generation to come will take up the battle against our foe so that those whom we honor this day will not have died in vain. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12