This week we celebrate Memorial Day. The holiday was originally called Decoration Day and dates back to the days following the Civil War. It was established three years after the end of the Civil War on May 5, 1868 when Union General John A. Logan designated a day when the graves of war dead would be decorated with flowers. It was not until the end of World War I that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was named a national holiday and people were urged to pause for a moment of silence at 3:00 p.m. to pay tribute to the men and women who died during military service fighting to protect and defend our freedom.
We enjoy a lot of freedom in our country. We are free to attend church and worship, we are free to choose where we want to live, we are free to choose most of the things that affect our daily lives. We enjoy our freedom, but we also know that our freedom wasn't free. Many courageous men and women gave their lives to pay the price for the freedom that you and I enjoy. These are the ones that we honor this week as we celebrate Memorial Day.
The greatest freedom that we have is the freedom that we have in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul writes, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) We have been set free because Jesus was willing to pay the penalty. Jesus died on the cross to set us free from the penalty of our sin. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36) Instead of death, we have been given eternal life. This freedom wasn't free, Jesus paid the price.
This week as we celebrate Memorial Day, let us remember to stop and give thanks for those who have paid the price for our freedom. Let us also remember to thank God for Jesus, who has set us free from the penalty for sin, because he was willing to pay the price.
Father, we give thanks for the freedom that we enjoy. We are thankful for those who paid the price for that freedom, but even more important, we thank you for the freedom we have because Jesus was willing to pay the penalty for our sin.