Memorial Day is when we honor the men and women of our Armed Services who have made the supreme sacrifice giving their lives for their country.

Today I am reminded of the film “Saving Private Ryan” in which James Ryan, now in his seventies, has returned with his family to a military cemetery in Normandy France. He visits the grave of Captain John Miller, the man who, a half a century before, led the mission to retrieve—to save—Private Ryan. At the end of the mission, Miller was fatally wounded. As he lay dying, his final words to Private Ryan were, “James. Earn this…earn it.” Private Ryan, out of gratitude for Captain Miller’s sacrifice for the rest of his days, did all in his power to live a good life to earn the sacrifice others had made for him.

This Memorial Day we certainly want to remember the brave service people who died to insure the freedom our country offers. Memorial Day is also a great time for each of us to look in the mirror…to examine our own lives and to ask ourselves, “Are we living good lives in gratitude for all those who have sacrificed for us—including our men and women in the military, our families, our friends, and most of all Christ?

Memorial Day is a uniquely American holiday but I like to think of this holiday originating in the city of Jerusalem some 2000 years ago when… “on the night Jesus was betrayed, he took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. “1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Are we today, out of gratitude living for Christ, following his teachings, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, ministering to those in prison, sharing the gift of salvation we have been given in whatever battlefield the Lord has called us to?

Examine your life today on this holiday we celebrate the freedom our Constitution provides and the brave service people who died to insure that freedom. Examine your life today and remember  the freedom we have been given through Christ’s death on a cross. It is a sacrifice he gave that we DO NOT HAVE TO EARN.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13