There is no greater love than laying down your life for your friends. (John 15:13)
Sacrifice is at the heart of reality. Whether it is a mother bird defending her nest, a police officer on patrol, a parent defending their child, or a soldier risking life and limb in war, our wellbeing depends on the sacrifices of others. We need to remember on Memorial Day the women and men who suffered injury and death on behalf of our nation. Saying “thanks” is not enough for their sacrifice on our behalf. Regardless of our political views, our military and those who place themselves in harm’s way on our behalf need our gratitude, mostly young people like our children and grandchildren, who are at risk even today.
Our sense of sacrifice – and gratitude for it – has increased during this time of pandemic. We post placards thanking physicians, nurses, hospital workers, and first responders. We are especially grateful to store clerks, store stockers, truckers, farm workers, plant workers, and many others whose sacrifices make it possible to have food on our tables, many of which have contracted the Coronavirus as a result of their essential services.
Memorial Day reminds us to move from thanksgiving to blessings. To ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country, as President Kennedy said to our nation, inspiring even school children like myself to seek lives of service and mission. Today, ask yourself, even if you are appropriately sheltering in place: what can I do for my country? How can I act to bring greater joy and support to those who serve? How can I look beyond my self-interest to care for the least of these and to support the wellbeing of our planet for generations yet unborn?
Then God will truly “crown our good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”
Let me give thanks for the sacrifices that enable me to enjoy the fruits of freedom and prosperity. Let my thanks become blessing by making sacrifices to support our community, congregation, nation, and this good earth. Amen.
Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, and author of over 50 books including FAITH IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC and GOD ONLINE: A MYSTIC’S GUIDE TO THE INTERNET