May 28 2019

Pastor Mike at Aztec Methodist Church

As I write this our country is celebrating Memorial Day. The history of this holiday is generally traced back to the Civil War. Beginning during the war individual families, especially in the South, began decorating the graves of their loved ones who had died in battle with flowers. After the war communities began choosing a day for a community remembrance, again marked by decorating the graves of deceased soldiers. In some cases these celebrations coincided with the return of the bodies from mass graves at the battle site to their home cemeteries. 

Finally in 1868 General John Logan, commander of the “Grand Army of the Republic”, an organization of veterans from the Union forces in the civil war, called for a national Decoration Day to honor the civil war dead, by decorating their graves. He proposed the date of May 30. Some say that it was because this was not the anniversary of any particular battle, others that it was a date when most people would have flowers available in their gardens. At any rate Decoration Day celebrations were held in 27 states that year. In the South veterans groups argued that the North had stolen their idea for Decoration Day, and instead many states declared a “Confederate Memorial Day” on other days in April or May. 

By the end of World War I the day was expanded to honor the dead in all of America’s wars, not just the Civil War. People throughout the country were observing May 30th as a time to honor the dead, though using flowers continued. Memorial Day was becoming more popular as the name for the day. After World War II small American Flags were beginning to replace flowers as the decoration for the graves of anyone who had served in war and later died.

As early as 1913 one leader complained that the younger generation who had not known war no longer saw the day as a day to remember those who died, but as “a day of games, races, and revelry; instead of a day for memory and tears”. Veterans groups strongly opposed the running of the Indianapolis 500 (begun in 1911) on Memorial Day, though they eventually lost the fight. Memorial Day became the “Unofficial start of Summer”, especially since the date was changed to the last Monday of May to allow a three day weekend. In places where people still use flowers to decorate graves, they often make no distinction between those who have served in the military and other family members.

So what does a basically secular holiday have to do with our faith? In John 15:13 Jesus says, “No greater love has anyone than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus then tells the disciples that they have become his friends. Paul expands on this theme in Romans 5:7-8 : “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

When we remember those who have died in war or served in the Armed forces, we are remembering those who, like Christ, were willing to die for the people of this country. Such people are deserving of our praise and remembrance. But we should also remember all of those who have shared their faith with us and are now beyond this life. Let us take time to remember each of them.

Aztec United Methodist Church

Sunday Schedule

8:45am   Sunday School
10:00am Worship Service

Community Assistance

Community assistance is available between 8:30am and 1:00pm from Monday through Thursday.

Upcoming Sermons

May 26
Obeying the Spirit
Acts 16:6-15
Luke 24:36-49

June 2
Obedience to God’s Call
Acts 16:16-34
Luke 24:44-53

June 9
The working of God’s Spirit
Acts 2:1-21
John 14:15-27

June 16
The mystery of God
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15

June 23
Freedom in Christ
Galatians 3:23-29
Luke 8:26-39

June 30
The Costs of Following Jesus
2 Kings 2:1-14
Luke 9:51-62

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Child care is available between 8:45am and 11:00am so that you are more easily able to attend the service and Sunday school.

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  • Today’s Reflection A note from the author: “Celtic Christians acknowledged God’s presence in every aspect of living—from waking to sleeping, from birth to death, from mundane chores to momentous celebrations. They perceived God’s creation as a holy gift. Gratitude characterized their way of being as they affirmed the source of life and gave thanks through […]

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