Sermon from 5th Sunday in Lent
Pastor's Newsletter - Memorial Day 2014
From the Desk of Pastor Joyce
As I write this it is the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. More than a weekend to frolic in the sun and picnic on the grounds, Memorial Day is a day to remember. Remember our freedom has been bought with a price. Thousands of people have died that you and I might live in the freedom that we regularly take for granted. This day is remembered by many services in cemeteries where veterans are buried. Sometimes there are parades and “Taps” is often played solemnly at the end of the ceremony. When I was a girl scout, we made poppies to sell to remember those who had given their lives.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.
Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
As our freedom and liberty has been bought by those who gave their lives in battle, the forgiveness of our sins and our salvation have been bought through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus gave his life willingly on the cross that we might have the freedom of grace from God to live our lives as his children without fear.
So as we celebrate Memorial Day with parades, picnics, family gatherings, baseball games or whatever other traditions your family has, remember we are bought with a price, not just by our military BUT also by Jesus Christ on the cross.
We have been truly blessed by God. In remembrance of this, let us reach out to those who are in need. Let us give of our resources to feed and house the hungry and homeless. Let us share the good news of Jesus Christ and the price he paid for all of us on the cross.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor's Newsletter - May 2014
From the Desk of Pastor Joyce
“When we were baptized in Christ Jesus, we were baptized into his death. We were buried therefore with him by Baptism into death so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
These are the words of comfort and hope that we hear at a funeral service. On Easter we heard these words of hope. They are real. In Jesus’ death our sins were washed away. In his death, Jesus defeated death. Death cannot win! That is certainly good news. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can live our lives in the hope and assurance of God’s eternal life and his presence with us in this world no matter what we are suffering, even when we are dying.
A few years after I graduated from seminary, my advisor, Walt Bouman, was given the diagnosis of cancer and the expectation that he would live only a few months longer. As we heard at his funeral, the hospital staff was amazed at the party atmosphere in his hospital room. There was real joy! One of the last things he said (paraphrased) was “I have trusted in Jesus all my life and I won’t stop now. I can hardly wait to see Jesus.” That was an expression of his undying and certain hope in Jesus. He planned his funeral service as a celebration and it was – three hours’ worth, including some of the most beautiful classical music that he loved so much. Walt was expressing his joyful anticipation of eternal life in Christ.
My Aunt Ruth expressed her confidence this way. She was about to undergo a serious and risky surgical procedure. There was a real danger that she would die on the table. Her reaction was this, “I know I will wake up whether here on in heaven and either place will be OK.” She survived that surgery, but after undergoing many more surgeries and knowing that there was little or no anticipation of recovery. She refused to go through any more surgeries and she died at peace, in the certain hope of eternal life.
No matter what you are experiencing – sickness, financial troubles, relationship troubles, or even good times – God loves you. And through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are given he hope and assurance that God is always with us and that one day we too will experience eternal life.
ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN!
CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
God’s peace be with you,