Monday is Memorial Day in America. A day we remember those who have died in service to the country. Flags fly and flowers are placed on graves. Not as many go to the cemeteries as in the past. I guess we are too busy sometimes to pause.
My father, a World War II veteran, would always wear a poppy on Memorial Day. Pressed between the pages of his service Bible was a dried poppy. When I asked him where it came from he said it came from a place called Flanders. He then recited a poem, “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
It is one of the best known poems of war written by a Canadian doctor named John McCrae in World War I. It was also the only poem I ever heard my father recite.
We observe Memorial Day not for the dead, they know nothing, but for ourselves–that we might learn. What we need to learn is the way to peace instead of war. What is needed is a “new religion”, one unlike the traditional religions of today's world. It will take a new religion, one that truly changes mens hearts and minds, to produce the way to peace rather than war.
Isaiah talks of the day when rods will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Nations will no longer go to war neither will the art of war be taught and studied in the war colleges. A new religion will be taught from Jerusalem–one not taught now. It will be based on the righteous teachings of the God of Jacob. (Isaiah 2:2-4 Isaiah 2:2-4 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
American King James Version×)
We honor those who have fallen in war. Their service enables the freedoms we hold dear. Abraham Lincoln described such men and women as those “who gave the last full measure of devotion”. Our devotion to the coming kingdom of God is a statement that their sacrifice was not in vain.