Friday, May 22, 2015

Some Uncommon Memorial Day Thoughts

This Memorial Day Weekend we reprint some appropriate thoughts from another writer:

On this Memorial Day, what if we not only remember American soldiers but all the soldiers around the world who have lost their lives? And not only soldiers, but all the innocent civilians caught and killed as well? What if we remember that we are all mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, family, and friends? That we are more family than strangers? What if we took our identity seriously, that we are all made in the image of God? What if we renew our “us vs. them” mindset to instead think “we are like them, and they are like us”?


When I was a little girl, I remember walking through a military cemetery with my daddy, a military man himself, and my mom and three brothers. Hundreds of white, cross-shaped tomb markers sprawled in every direction.

I remember feeling uncomfortable, the silence awkward. Even though I was only six or seven, I remember struggling to understand what these crosses represented. My eyebrows knit with confusion, I tugged on my daddy’s pant leg next to me. He looked down at me, and I quietly asked, “Weren’t all these people daddies and brothers?” “Yes, honey, they were,” he gently replied. I looked away. With tears stinging my eyes, I stifled my cries as my little brain and big heart tried to understand why daddies would kill daddies.

I imagined my daddy being killed and how my mom, my brothers, and I would probably never stop crying. What about all the other mommies and brothers and sisters whose daddies were killed? It didn’t make sense to me then, and it doesn’t make sense to me now, even though decades have passed since that visit to the cemetery.

We should mourn the loss of all life. Because our identity and duty is first to Christ, not our nation, we are to give worth and faces and names to our ‘enemies'; therefore, imitating Christ in His love for us, His enemies.

And while we crucified Jesus for His scandalous love, His love continues on. What if we believe Jesus for His words and lifestyle and choose to love those our nation seeks to kill? We may lose our lives, but the demonstration of our love would impact someone, somewhere. As paradoxical as the Kingdom of God tends to be, it is often in death that life is born. It is in the moment when all seems lost, we must have faith that love never fails (I Cor 13:8).

So with love firmly rooted within us, what if we used the same selfless bravery to save ‘enemy’ lives instead of taking them? And not just during wartime. What if we used our extra resources to help rebuild the hospitals that have been bombed as a result of war? What if we took our vocations overseas and helped bring education to children who have never seen a school, nor know what one is? What if we invited international students into our homes for holidays? What if we made a lifestyle of welcoming others (neighbors, near and far) in?

What if we determined to find more commonalities than differences with those we label as enemies? What if everyone committed to loving and getting to know the foreigners on their block? Then, when wars break out or resume, we no longer see ‘enemies’ but we see our neighbors’ families and friends struggling to keep their families safe. Will we let love, and not fear, guide our actions and behavior to those near and far? May it be so. 


By Nikole Mitchell and reprinted from its appearance on RedLetterChristian.org, 2013. Nikole is a wife, mother,  and teacher, who is currently teaching on simple living and loving creation at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota

7 comments:

  1. Wonderful way to start my day. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. With all due respect, and I mean that sincerely, these special holidays are commemorated by those who set them up for whom they set them up to remember...it is fine if you choose to remember others beside what the holiday is meant for, but I find it inappropriate to suggest you make a "mind change" to someone who lost a loved one to another who killed them to spread evil...for instance, in Israel, they commemorate Yom Ha'Shoah, and other times, to remember the victims of the holocaust...to suggest to them that they should "mind change" to remember those who boxed them up and sent their people to furnaces...would be just as inappropriate. Today is to remember those who sacrificed with their lives so that we would be able to live in this nation, America, as a free people, and a nation that changed the world, ended slavery, defeated Nazi's, liberated the concentration camps, etc, etc, and is worthy of respect.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Kevin, thank you for your response, and that is said with the same sincerity I believe you wrote with. The article touches on a sensitive subject, without a doubt, and I am glad you felt free to address what certainly others may feel. The mind change that I propose to bring about is for disciples of Jesus who may also be citizens of the United States. I am not writing for those who are not disciples. Too often we see disciples on patriotic holidays put on their American hat and blend completely in with the culture, but my view is that we need a mind change and remember that first and foremost we are citizens of the kingdom of God and as such we are a family of God in 180 plus nations around the world, and we MUST NOT stand among our brothers and sisters and look at America as exceptional. When we have on our kingdom of God hat and our Russian brothers (who I am blessed I know) have on their kingdom of God hat and our Venezuelan brothers (who I am blessed to know) have on their kingdom of God hat and our Chinese brothers (who I am blessed to know) have on their kingdom of God hat we are ALL one Christ. Please know this: I am grateful to live where I live, but my citizenship in the Kingdom of God must overrule my citizenship in the United States. As Jesus said to Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." I hope others will express their thoughts. God bless.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am grateful for an open discussion on a challenging topic. Memorial Day has its origins after the Civil War where those from both the North and the South would decorate fallen soldiers’ graves with flowers. (Remembering and grieving our dead is certainly essential and good.) Yet, how quickly remembering our fallen can turn into nationalism and allegiance to an earthly kingdom at war with other earthly kingdoms! One must consider how God's heart (and the hearts of so many mothers, fathers, wives, sons, and daughters) grieved when America, a Christian nation, descended into civil war killing over 600,000 men. Jesus’ Kingdom ushered in a much better way. Instead of killing our enemies, our King commands us to love our enemies, to feed them, and to pray for them. Actively loving our enemies, so well described in this posting, is a scandalous message that confronts our natural bent toward hatred, bitterness, nationalism, indifference (to our enemy’s needs), and pride. For those interesting in this topic of Christians and war, I commend the following message: The Legacy of Non-Resistance in the Churches of Christ, which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiMPJuB6gXA

    ReplyDelete