Honoring Their Sacrifice
Greetings, fellow disciples of Jesus,
This week our nation paused from our daily business to remember the men and women of our military who died in service to our country. Memorial Day (long before that known as “Decoration Day”) is a time to honor the sacrifice made by others; a sacrifice made so that we may exercise and enjoy the freedoms enshrined in our constitution. Flags and flowers now decorate the graves of the fallen. May our remembrance of the honored dead continue long after the flowers have faded.
On the Sunday preceding Memorial Day, our congregation displayed a book with photographs and names of men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces. Among these are five men and women who died in service:
Richard A. Albright
Homer G. Puse
Herman E. Swartz
John H. Bowen, Jr.
Jerry A. Bockbrader
Let us pray.
O God, our Father in heaven, we thank you for all those who have laid down their lives for home and for country; and especially for these, your servants, whom we remember before you on this day. We pray that they, with all who have fought the good fight of faith, may receive from you the crown of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
On this day, June 2, the Church remembers Blandina and her companions, forty-eight Christians who were martyred in the year 177 in what is now the south of France. Given the choice between life, should they renounce their faith, and death if they refused to do so, these men and women—our brothers and sisters in Christ—chose death. Their faithful confession of Christ as Lord, even in the face of mob violence and state-sanctioned torture, continues to be an encouragement to Christians today.
Yes, today around the world we have brothers and sisters in Christ who face the same persecutions and violence as those early Christians. They are confronted with costly choices that threaten their lives and livelihood. We do not really know what that is like and, I pray, we will not have that experience here. As we remember those who confessed Christ before the world even when it cost them their lives, we remember, too that their true, eternal life—and ours—is in Christ. May their witness embolden us to be ready to give an answer when we are asked for the reason for the hope that is within us.
Let us pray.
Faithful God, by your Holy Spirit, you strengthened Blandina and her companions, such that they were able to remain steadfast in faith until death. Grant that we, with them, may give the good confession and in our lives and in the hour of our death bear witness to your love and your grace. Encourage those of our own age who suffer persecution for the sake of your name. Remind them that you are with them in their suffering and buoy them in hope for the day when they will enter into your eternal rest.
“Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not count the cost, to fight and not heed the wounds, to toil and not seek for rest, to labor and not ask for reward, save that of knowing that we do your will; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, One God, world without end. Amen.”
from Collects and Prayers for Use in the Church
The United Lutheran Church in America (1935)
The Lord be with you.