On this memorial weekend we remember fallen heroes. The news keeps us painfully aware that war always produces fallen heroes, and we all agree that fallen heroes deserve to be remembered. If I were to ask you to name some fallen heroes you especially remember today your answers would probably range from friends or loved ones in the Second World War to the current conflict in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Our formal remembering began when General Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the republic, officially proclaimed May 30, 1868 to be a day of Memorial for soldiers who had fallen in the Civil War. Flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and confederate soldiers in Arlington Cemetery. However, the Southern States did not recognize this day and observed other days for honoring their dead until after WW I when Memorial Day became the day to honor those who died fighting in any way, not just the Civil War.
In 1915 Moina Michael, inspired by the poem, "In Flanders Fields," contributed her own short poem that led to wearing poppies in honor of those who died:
We cherish too the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led.
It seems to signal to the skies
that blood of heroes never dies.
At this particular moment, at this table, we focus on a fallen hero whose life was given in the greatest battle ever fought, and who's blood, as the poem says, "never dies." Every human war ever fought is simply a microcosm of the deeper, greater spiritual war that goes on behind the scenes. As Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the ... spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." We are still engaged in this struggle and we come today to remember and to celebrate the fallen hero who won the decisive battle.
Its been said that every war has a decisive battle. In the Second World War the decisive battle came with D Day and the successful invasion of France. While many battles were yet to be fought, the war was essentially won at that time. There were many fallen heroes on the beach whose sacrifice ultimately led to victory.
Today we remember another fallen hero -- but with a difference. He fell, but rose again, enabling Paul to say in Romans 5:10, "If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." Reconciled by his death ... saved by his life. Death and all of this world's sin and evil met its match on Calvary when Jesus Christ became our fallen and risen hero. We celebrate victory, won for us by our fallen and risen hero.
Therefore, on the first day of the week, on each resurrection Sunday, when we break the bread and drink the cup, I like to think it is accompanied by those described in Revelation 5, "... myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.'" As you take the Lord's Supper this morning, listen for the Hallelujah chorus!