On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, in dedicating the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, needed only 272 words to provide America with perhaps the greatest speech in our country’s history.
The Gettysburg Address
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
There is some debate as to when our nation first celebrated a day to honor America’s fallen heroes, but it is generally believed that what was originally known as “Decoration Day,” began shortly after the American Civil War (c. 1868). It was first celebrated as “Memorial Day” on May 30, 1882, and is now celebrated on the last Monday of May.
Unlike our national holiday which honors millions of our nation’s fallen men and women, billions, known as the Church, hold a memorial service for One Solitary Man: Jesus of Nazareth. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates Holy Communion, or The Eucharist, every single day. Protestant churches differ on when The Lord’s Supper is to be observed and how often. Some do so every Sunday; others vary from monthly to quarterly. Regardless of how often or what each church calls the celebration, it is a memorial to the Lord’s Death, Burial, Resurrection, and Second Coming. Here is what the Apostle Paul had to say about it:
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come” (1 Cor. 11:23-26).
Memorial Day honors those who remain in their graves; The Lord’s Supper honors the Son of God, who like them, died, but unlike them, He rose from the dead! Our Memorial Service not only honors His death on the Cross, it proclaims His return to rule the world He created (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:1-2; etc.).
Unlike those who mourn the dead, born again believers joyfully anticipate their Lord’s return!