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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 20, 2014

Parson to Person: Memorial Day

By REV. MARK YOUNGQUIST, Swedesburg Lutheran Church | May 24, 2013

With Memorial Day just around the corner, I hope that all of you will take the time to remember those who have fought to defend our country and our freedom.

We honor them by taking the time to reflect on what they have done, and what this means for our own lives. You perhaps have had a personal relationship with one of these special Americans that we honor.

My prayer is that the God of peace will be with each of you in the solemn responsibility of decorating their graves for this Memorial Day.

We Americans have honored our fallen comrades in this way since Civil War times, when the occasion was known as “Decoration Day.”

General James Garfield was the main speaker at the first Memorial Day observance in 1868.

Garfield, who later would be elected president, said, “We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country, they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and virtue.”

What great words! We do remember the patriotism of all of those men and women who have fought for our country. In doing so, these people have lifted up the principle that freedom is essential to us as humans.

So vital is freedom that men and women would die to preserve it — not only for themselves, but for others as well.

Let’s also take this opportunity to look at spiritual freedom. St. Paul wrote these words to the Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (5:1)

And he goes on to write: “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.” (5:13)

The reason that freedom must be fought for is that there are enemies of freedom.

In our spiritual lives we know that the devil is continually trying to place us in bondage. The world works overtime to enslave us.

And, if that was not enough, our own sinful selves try to hold us captive. Jesus Christ has fought for our freedom, paying the ultimate price.

There are enemies of freedom who have repeatedly tested our resolve as a nation, calling our sons and daughters…our brothers and sisters…to the front lines of battle. And so we remember those who fought for freedom, and paid the price with their lives.

May their sacrifice point us to the One who made the supreme sacrifice, giving us eternal freedom.

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