Dear Westminster Family:
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
I have very clear memories of Memorial Days growing up that included the wearing of red poppies. Members of our local Veterans of Foreign Wars would stand on street corners offering the poppies for a small donation. Everywhere we went people proudly wore these small red flowers as a way honoring America’s war dead. It has been some time since I have seen anyone wearing one.
Why poppies? In war-torn battlefields, the red field poppy was one of the first plants to grow. Its seeds scattered in the wind and sat dormant in the ground, only germinating when the ground was disturbed—as it was by the very brutal fighting during World War One. Poppies became the symbol of loss of life as well as a symbol of recovery and new life.
The practice of wearing of poppies was further inspired by the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” written in 1915 by Canadian soldier John McCrae. He saw the poppies in burial grounds around his artillery position in Belgium.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch’ be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
We humans tend to need symbols to prompt our memories and move us to action. Obviously, Jesus knew of this tendency when He gave us the symbol of the Lord’s Supper as a regular reminder of His sacrifice for us. This Sunday, we will participate in this symbol as we honor those who were willing to sacrifice demonstrated by their military service; we will honor two young men who did sacrifice their lives in service to God and country; and we will celebrate the sacrifice that Jesus made for us in His death of the cross.
It is my prayer that our memories will move us to sacrificially “love where we live.”
See you in church.
For the expanded edition of “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming,” click here.