To all of those who have fought to defend the United States of America in our military, thank you. We owe you so much. The rest of us can only imagine what it was like. The closest we get to seeing and understanding it is the nightly news or movies like “American Sniper”, neither of which can give us a full appreciation of the love of country, sacrifice, and courage needed to be a soldier, sailor, or airman. On Memorial Day, we remember all those who have gone before us in defending the United States. We honor them for their courage and their “yes” to defending our great nation.
Another group of women and men who exhibited extreme courage were the early followers of Jesus Christ. Imagine what it was like to live their lives, first chosen by the Son of a carpenter, asked to leave everything they had behind…talk about faith. Yes, they witnessed great things, including the love and compassion of Jesus, but it all ended in tragedy, so they thought, when Jesus was crucified. Understandably so, they were incredibly scared. Then came Easter Sunday, when Jesus rose from the dead, appeared to His disciples and spent time with them after His resurrection. Jesus continued to disciple His disciples until His ascension, when He promised them His Holy Spirit.
Pentecost is the feast in the Church commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the Acts of the Apostles. Pentecost marks the beginning of Christianity as a purposeful movement, where the disciples were transformed from frightened and confused people to men and women who would face martyrdom for what they believed.
Like our soldiers, think of the courage of the early disciples. Can you imagine? Much of what occurred has been depicted for us in the television series, “A.D. The Bible Continues”. These people of great faith also had great courage, born of the Holy Spirit. They had to have courage in the face of the persecution that they faced. The Jews were against them. The Romans were against them. At every turn, they risked death. All they had was their belief in the Risen Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank God for their “yes”, or where would we be today?
This week, which follows the coinciding of Pentecost and Memorial Day, we have so much to be thankful for. Our country, the United States of America, provides us with opportunities not afforded most others around the world. We have a God who loves us and forgives us unconditionally, and a Church, founded by those courageous disciples, which supports us on our faith journeys.
During this week, let us pray for all Christians, in the United States and around the world, for those who have lost their lives for their professed belief in Jesus, those who continue to risk death for their faith, and those whose religious freedoms are threatened.
We pray to you Lord Jesus, for the strength of Your Holy Spirit, that all of us have the courage of Your disciples and our soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Provide us with the Holy Spirit boldness to not only live as Your disciples, but to “make disciples of all nations”, to say “yes” to You, our Lord for all that You ask. For it is only in doing so that we can live in Your peace. We ask this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!