I didn’t grow up with any Memorial Day traditions. Well…other than being assigned various projects to accomplish on my parents’ 40 acres and celebrating the fact that school was officially out. We didn’t buy flowers, go decorate grave sites, or honor the military by going to a parade. No, it’s not that my family was unpatriotic—it’s just that the cemeteries that we’d consider visiting were in Oklahoma, and we lived in Missouri. Plus we had no military personnel in our family when I was a kid. Truth be told, I don’t think my parents did any of the traditional Memorial Day Weekend things either.
I know people, though, who faithfully prepare beautiful flower arrangements and go place them on the graves of their loved ones. I even know some who journey quite a ways to do this very thing. And I know people who never miss the Memorial Day parade. Obviously, I can’t relate.
It’s interesting to me that Memorial Day (or Decoration Day as it was originally called), was established three years after the Civil War ended as a “time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.” This is how it all began. This was the sole purpose. However, it’s even more interesting to me that the holiday has morphed into honoring living veterans and further to simply decorating the graves of any loved one, military or not.
I don’t get it. How did it change? Why did it change? Why hasn’t it held to its roots?
I’ll never know. And like I said, it’s not a tradition I grew up with so I won’t lose any sleep over it. But in the same breath, it’s fascinating to me to consider what or who we honor. What or who we “decorate.” What or who we “memorialize.”
We go to great lengths to revere great people who have done great things. We have ceremonies in their honor. We reflect on their heroism, their influential character, wonderful times spent with them, etc. We make much of veterans who died serving in the military. We make much of folks who we love that have passed away. And hear me…I’m not criticizing these activities at all. These are very special moments for people to remember very special people that they have loved dearly.
John Piper asks a very valid question. “Do you feel loved by God because you believe He makes much of you, or because you believe He frees you and empowers you to enjoy making much of Him?”
So…wait a second…God makes much of us? YES!
And we are free to enjoy making much of Him? ABSOLUTELY!
Why aren’t we celebrating this? Why aren’t we having a parade?
How about this Memorial Day—as we are decorating the graves of those we have loved, as we honor those who lost their lives, as we make much of the folks who have meant so much to us—let us also make much of the One who loves us dearly. Let’s make much of the one who gave His only Son’s life for us. Let’s make much of the One who makes much of us.