Freedom has a Price
On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln made his way to a battlefield in Pennsylvania. He feared that he might be the last president of the United States. The country teetered on the brink of self-destruction. The ceremony that afternoon would dedicate the site of the cemetery for the over forty thousand soldiers who died at Gettysburg in the three-day battle the previous July. Lincoln’s remarks provided the seedbed for what would become Memorial Day.
He began his speech by saying, “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.” Less than two minutes later, he concluded his speech by saying, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here (referring to the sacrifice of the soldiers).
Memorial Day grew out of the human need to remember where we have been. It has been said that only then can we figure out where we are going. The cherished memories of a nation, a town, a church, people, or a family provide the values and dream that one generation passes on to the next. Forgetting means dropping the torch.
These memorials are not for those who have died, but rather for us, the living, less we forget those that gave their lives for and what they died for. Most of those who gave their lives were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice because they wanted to ensure that their children and their children’s children would have the freedoms that they were willing to die for. They were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that we would be free to uphold the freedoms a value that they themselves hoped for.
I would like to read a portion of a letter, written by a soldier to his wife during World War II so that you can see what was going on in the mind of some of those who gave their lives for the freedoms that we now have.
July 21, 1943
July 21, 1943
My dearest sweet Cleo,
When you read this letter I will either be missing in action, killed or captured, and the last possibility is very remote because if I have any fight left in me, I will give my life to defend not only my country but the principles on which it was founded.
I want you and our child to be able to live in freedom, as you want, wherever you want, and to do what you want. I want the opportunity for our child to be able to grow up and be kind, gentle and Christian, not barbarian like those we are fighting.
I want our child to be able to go to school and to college to learn whatever profession he or she wants to learn. If a boy, I want him to grow up and be a better man than his Dad. I want him to marry if he chooses, a wife as kind and sweet as his mother. If a girl, I know she will be as fine a wife to some man as you have been to me.
You will wonder why I have written this. I wonder myself, but last night I lay thinking, what if I should be killed? Would Cleo know what my mind was thinking as to our future? I have no premonition of being killed and am trusting in the Lord to watch over me and keep me safe, but when He calls, I will be ready.
It is a nice feeling, darling, to know that whatever happens to me, I will meet you again someday, but in a home that will be far nicer than any we could ever have had here on earth. So don’t grieve, just think that I have gone away for a little while and I’ll see you again…..
…One other thing comes to mind. You are young and beautiful and no doubt will meet several nice fellows that will want to marry you. The way I look at it, we said we were married until death do us part. Well, when you get this, we will have temporarily parted, but that won’t prevent you from marrying again. In Heaven there is no marriage and no death, so we’ll all be together anyway. Therefore, if you meet a nice young man who is willing to take you and provide a home for you and our child and probably some of his own, then you have my blessing and God be with you. All I ask that you make sure he is a Christian, because if he is, he will be kind and gentle and loving to you.
I have tried to be a Christian. I have sinned, but praise God, I know that He will forgive me my sins because I believe in Christ Jesus as my own personal Savoir and He watches over me always, until He is ready to take me home to Glory.
Farewell, my darling, until we meet again,
Tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands have willing made the ultimate sacrifice as this soldier did through the ages.
We should not forget about the sacrifices that were made for you and me, and why those men and women were willing to make such as sacrifice; and that was to give us a chance have a good life and be free from oppression.
What I particularity like about this letter is the fact that this soldier was not a man without a future hope. Because of his faith in Christ he clearly recognized that we have a far better home awaiting us in Heaven because of the sacrifice Jesus made on that cross,
Each week we come here to honor and worship God, and remember the great sacrifice Jesus made for us. Jesus instituted what we now call the ‘Lords Supper’ as a memorial. I believe Christians were not only told by Jesus to partake of the emblems on the first day of the week to remember His personal sacrifice and what it cost for our freedom from sin, in 1 Corinthians 11:26 Paul also wrote, “For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are representing and signifying and proclaiming the fact of the Lord’s death until He comes again.” (Amplified Bible)
Partaking of the Lord’s Supper memorial each week is not only for us to remember what He did for us, but also based on this verse partaking of these emblems in communion is a proclamation to the world that we believe that Jesus died for sin and that He is coming back! Even though He died on that cross for us and was buried we know that He rose again giving us hope for a new life after we die.
Like the letter from soldier, Jesus also left us with a letter to let us know how much He loves us, and how He was willing to pay the ultimate price for our freedom from sin so that we experience life to the full, not only in the here and now, but also the eternal kingdom of God.
Someday He will return. That’s what the verse in 1 Cor. 11 and well as other verses in scripture say. But until that time He now reigns on high in the Kingdom of heaven, as the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. HE IS WORTHY of worship and praise as seen Revelation, chapter 5. I would like to read to you what the Apostle John wrote concerning what he saw in Heaven concerning the awesome glory Jesus now receives.
“Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits[a] of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
The Lord’s Supper which we are about to celebrate is a memorial, it is meant to Honor Jesus, to proclaim our loyalty and faith, and it is meant to give us hope because He is coming back what is to come, to bring us to a home in glory.
So my encouragement this day is simply this: Remember those who have died for us, and remember why they died. And honor them by living and enjoying the life and principles they died for. And put your hope in what is to come.