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Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a national holiday observed to commemorate Americans who died in the nationís armed forces.  It is observed each year on the last Monday of May.  Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, and it began as a day to honor Union soldiers who died fighting in the Civil War.  After World War I, the holiday was expanded to honor all American soldiers who had fallen in battle.  This day is now observed around the country by the decoration of soldiersí graves and ceremonies that honor the sacrifices that those soldiers made.

We who are Christians also have a memorial day.  It is a day to commemorate our Lord Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us.  This day is not celebrated with decorations or ceremonies, but rather it is observed by partaking in a feast Ė the Lordís Supper.  Also, this day is not reserved as an annual holiday, but rather it is a weekly observance.  It is this day with its memorial that is faithfully observed by all Christians until the Lord comes.

The centerpiece of Christís memorial day was ordained by the Lord Himself.  Jesus instituted the Lordís Supper when He took unleavened bread and fruit of the vine and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me,Ē and, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of MeĒ (1Cor. 11:24-25; see also Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20).  The Lord first said these words to His apostles as they observed the Jewish Passover on the night that He would be arrested.  The Passover Feast was a foreshadowing of the Lordís Supper, just as the Passover (deliverance from the tenth plague in Egypt) was a foreshadowing of Godís mercy through Christ (see 1Cor. 5:7-8).  The elements taken from the Passover Feast for the Lordís Supper are available all over the world, so the Supper can be observed anywhere.  These elements are symbolic of Christís body and blood that were sacrificed for the atonement of our sins.

We observe the memorial feast of the Lordís Supper on each first day of the week according to the Scriptures.  Regarding this memorial, the Lord said, "Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of MeĒ (1Cor. 11:26).  Certainly, Christ deserves to be commemorated often, but the only reference in the Scriptures for the timing of the Lordís Supper is found in Acts 20:7.  In this passage, the saints at Troas gathered on the first day of the week to break bread, which appears to be a reference to the observation of the Lordís Supper (compare "break breadĒ to similar terms in 1Cor. 10:16-17; Acts 2:42).  Non-biblical, historical evidence (early church writers Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Cyprian) indicates that the early churches did indeed observe the Lordís Supper on the first day of each week.  Therefore, it is fitting for Christians to observe the Lordís Supper on the first day of each week.

Consider how the weekly observance of the Lordís Supper constitutes a memorial to Him.  As a commemorative event, we observe the Lordís Supper in honor of Christís memory.  By the bread, we commemorate that His body was brutally sacrificed to atone for our sins.  By the fruit of the vine, we commemorate that His blood was shed to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  We commemorate everything that Christ has done for us through His cross, but it is important to understand that we do not observe the Lordís Supper in order to remember Christ, but rather we observe it because we do remember Him.  This weekly memorial shows that we remember Christ always.  Because we always remember Him, we also proclaim His death through the Lordís Supper with the faithful conviction that He will come again (1Cor. 11:26).  We do this together in the assembly (1Cor. 11:17-34) as a communion between Christians and a symbol of unity in Christ (1Cor. 10:16-17).

Therefore, let us observe Memorial Day each year to honor those who died in the wars of the nation, but more importantly let us observe the Lordís memorial day each week to honor the Christ who died for our sins.  Let us partake of the Lordís Supper with reverence and self-examination in a manner worthy of the Lord who bought us (1Cor. 11:27-29).  Let us observe this memorial this week, next week, and every week until Christ comes as He gives us strength and opportunity.  Let us cherish the blessed privilege of sharing these things with one another and with the Lord.  Do this in remembrance of Him.

Stacey E. Durham



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