When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1
This past Sunday was an odd conjunction of special days of people coming together with purpose. I’m talking about Pentecost Sunday and Memorial Day. I don’t ever remember that happening. Did you think about that? After all, Memorial Day is rather solemn while Pentecost is exuberant.
Memorial Day looks back and commemorates the sacrifices of the past. Pentecost, an event which grew out of the greatest sacrifice and triumph, looks forward to a new day.
The one recalls war. The other anticipates peace.
One emphasizes what people have done to secure a nation’s freedom. The other stresses what God must do if people would be truly free within.
One emphasizes our battles against flesh and blood. The other reminds us our greatest conflicts are not with human enemies, but with spiritual forces of darkness.
On Memorial Day, communities have parades to honor our country. At Pentecost, people of God march into all nations of the world to share the good news.
Our leaders make speeches on Memorial Day, urging us to remember those who gave their lives to protect America. On Pentecost, great is the company of preachers who point us to him who died and rose again to make the whole world new.
Families decorate graves with flags and flowers on Memorial Day. On Pentecost, we receive gifts from God who broke the power of the grave and will one day raise the dead to life again.
One day is an occasion for family picnics. On the other, God’s family gathers at the Table.
Memorial Day was designed to bring our nation together. Pentecost makes people from every nation one in Christ.
On Memorial Day, our leaders remind us that we too may be called to take up arms in defense of our freedom. On Pentecost, we lay down our arms and proclaim the ultimate power of love and service.
Memorial Day commemorates the sacrifices of a few in uniform who died for the many, that all might live in peace. Pentecost calls every man, woman, and child to lay down their lives for others that all might live forever.
On Memorial Day, our leaders tell us that our future peace and prosperity depends upon maintaining our military might. At Pentecost God reminds us, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.”
Memorial Day celebrates the common grace of living in a free and prosperous nation. Pentecost marks the extraordinary grace of God who has come to live within us.
One focuses on America. The other focuses on Christ.
Unfortunately, both events have fallen into misunderstanding and misuse over the years. It’s important we remember that each, in different ways, is of value and importance.
God bless America.