Towards the end of the movie "Saving Private Ryan," an aged James Ryan comes out of a memory sequence in which a wounded and dying Captain John Miller tells him on a bridge in France to "earn this." In other words, ensure the life you lead after war is one worthy of the mortal sacrifice of your comrades - those brothers in arms who did the difficult work of securing and preserving freedom.
Ryan is kneeling in front of the grave of his former commander, the one who led a team to find the sole surviving son amidst the chaos of war so they could return him home to be with his grieving mother. This same mother had received word that three of her sons had already been killed in action.
Ryan addresses Miller, kneeling at the headstone, saying, "I hope that, at least in your eyes, l've earned what all of you have done for me."
With his Family looking on, Ryan turns to his wife and seeks her reassurance, saying, "Tell me l've led a good life. Tell me l'm a good man." She assures him that certainly, he has...and he is...
As this weekend is our observance of Memorial Day, I have been humbled to participate in a number of events that honor the fallen and spent time with Gold Star Families and Families of the Fallen. These Families, who are just like us, have experienced a loss that is incomprehensible. We honor them by ensuring the memory of their loved one lives on in memorials, prayers, and the telling of stories of their heroes.
We also honor them by not taking our freedom for granted. By living a life founded on Godly values, and encouraging the current and next generation to make certain they don't squander what's been obtained for them by brave men and women.
So is the life of faith in Jesus. Our freedom from sin and the gift of forgiveness and salvation was earned for us by his death, burial, and resurrection. There is nothing we can do to obtain it of our own human effort. Thank God for this gift!
LEADER PRAYER: Dear God, in somber reflection this weekend, we remember those who gave all for our benefit. They willingly served, fought, and died, and we are committed to never forget. We commit their Families to your care, but help us to be your hands and feet. May our lives reflect a humble gratitude for their sacrifice, and may we come to fully know the freedom found in serving your Son, Jesus. Amen.
INVITATION: If you are in the Minneapolis / Saint Paul area today (Sunday) and tomorrow, I invite you to join us for any of a number of remembrance activities at the Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel. White crosses bearing the names of the war dead from MN, IA, ND, SD, and WI are in place in the Chapel’s field of grass. Family members of these casualties will be recognized at the 11:00 a.m. (CDT) worship service. U.S. Army Chaplain (Colonel-Retired) Kenneth L. Beale, Jr. will be sharing a message entitled, "What Are We to Remember?" ... based on Philippians 1:2-11. The service is open to the public. Following the service, worshippers are invited to silently visit the garden of 300+ crosses and place a red poppy there. The garden will be surrounded by flag-bearing members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard. If you can’t attend the worship service at the historic Chapel, then join us via Livestream athttps://livestream.com/accounts/3709164/events/8160742. Finally, the beautiful Chapel will be open for tours tomorrow (Monday) and I will be present between 10 am and noon. I hope to see you.