Lee Southard, Ph.D.
May 28, 2018
May 2018 is a month of remembrance. Today May 28 is Memorial Day, a national holiday. Do you know it has a connection to Christmas and Easter?
Just 8 days ago was Pentecost Sunday, a day that goes slightly noted by the church and not at all by the general public. However, it is the link between the two “religious” holidays, Christmas and Easter and two national holidays, Memorial Day and July 4th. Without Pentecost it is unlikely we would celebrate Memorial Day or July 4th. Consider the following:
At Pentecost (Acts 2; 2-47), a great movement of God through his Holy Spirit was launched. It was the birth of the Christian church whose founding was both predestined (Ephesians 1: 4-7) and purposed by God (Ephesians 3: 9-12) through Jesus Christ. His birth is celebrated at Christmas and his death and resurrection is celebrated at Easter. Fifty days after Passover when Jesus was crucified and arose from the dead we celebrate Pentecost because of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to send after he was resurrected.
The church grew rapidly in the early years following Pentecost. It was a church made up of fallible people some of which during the Middle Ages allowed love of power to overcome its primary mission (Matthew 28) and become corrupt. Thanks to God there arose at just the right moments in church history reformers who knew with certainty the pure meaning of scripture and were able to periodically influence and bring the church back to its mission. These servants of God in the church formed a modern “great Cloud of witnesses” that could easily be added to the original list (Hebrews: 1). Some names are Irenaeus, Tertullian, Eusebius, The three Cappadocians Gregory (2) and Basil, Athanasius, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Hus, Wycliffe, Erasmus, Zwingli, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, Pascal, Milton, to name a few. Many were martyred. Very few of us know them because Church History is not taught in church.
These reformers set the stage for a church whose doctrines and principles over the years would be the chief influences for the rise of Western Civilization. Without Western Civilization there would be not be a United States of America as we know it. No other religion made such an influence.
Fast forward to today’s Memorial Day, where we observe and remember those who died in service to their country and lie in cemeteries around the world. Unless we were personally affected as a family or a comrade in arms we do not know their names either but we do know they are there. Without them there would be no United States of America.
So remember this Memorial Day those that fought and died for something special in our country that was the result of Pentecost. Remember those who lived and died for a church that influenced your country to become the wonderful place you live in today, a country well worth defending by those we honor on Memorial Day.