“I exhort…that…supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks, be made…for all that are in authority. 1 Timothy 2:1
It was started as a day of remembrance for those who died in service of the United States of America. The details as to exactly where and when it began is somewhat fuzzy, but in 1868, May 30th was officially declared as a decoration day or a memorial day to give proper honor to those soldiers who fell during the Civil War. The date was deliberately chosen since it was not the anniversary of any particular battle.
General James Garfield conducted a service at the Arlington National Cemetery that day with 5000 participants who decorated the graves of 20,000
Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. By 1890 all the Northern states had adopted it as an official holiday. Finally in 1971 by the National Holiday Act of 1971 (in order to assure another three-day-holiday weekend) declared Memorial day to be the last Monday of the month of May.
But do you recall the first sentence I wrote in this article? I wrote that it was initiated as a remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.The intent was not to simply honor those military men and or women who died in battle. It was intended to remember all those who gave their lives in service to our country.
I believe that includes firemen, rescue workers, police officers, state troopers, deputies, or anyone who gave his/her life in service to our country. Any kind of a civil servant who puts his life on the line for our protection and safety May 30th is a day of remembrance for me. May 30th 2003, my nephew gave his life in service as a State Trooper in North Carolina.
It’s been 16 years now. But the memories are almost as fresh as the air I am presently breathing. I close my eyes and I can see that little three-year-old boy dressed in a trooper uniform just like his dad’s sitting atop the caisson that would carry his dad’s body the last mile to Stuart Auditorium the Lake Junaluska Assembly grounds where they would conduct his dad’s service.
Hundreds upon hundreds of law enforcement officers from all over North Carolina and surrounding states were gathered to pay their final respects. And then as the funeral service ended and the procession made its way some three miles to the cemetery the entire distance was lined by citizens along the side of the road, heads bowed, hands over hearts in honor and appreciation of the life that had been lost in service to his fellow men.
That’s why I draw your attention to the scripture above to challenge you to do a couple or three things this Memorial Day. Number one, just like the scripture urges, while there is still time, pray for those who are in positions of authority that enable you and me to live peaceful lives in godliness.
And to make sure you and I thoroughly understood just how bathed in prayer these people need to be, Paul gave four different kinds of prayers you and I need to be making.
Supplications: humbly begging, petitioning.
Prayers:earnest, intense worshipful praise.
Intercessions:pleading on behalf of another.
Thanksgiving:The word there is “eucharistia”. The Lord’s supper in a number of denominations is often referred to as the eucharist. With the same thankfulness that we express to Christ as we celebrate how he gave his life that we might live, we need to be thankfully praying for those in authority.
Will you pray those kind of rich prayers on behalf of those in authority in order that you might live in peace and godly submission?
Secondly, will you take time this Memorial Day to thank an officer, thank a rescue worker, thank a deputy or a sheriff, thank a fireman, thank a state trooper, thank a military man or woman? Let someone know how much you appreciate them and their efforts to keep us safe.
Thirdly, would you offer those same kind of deep prayers for the families of those who have lost a loved one while he/she was working to protect you and me. Pray for the families of those who have given their all on your behalf and mine that we might live quite lives of dignity.