Archive for May 30th, 2017

Please note that this article is posted on May 30th.  Today is the traditional day for remembering those who died in our Nation’s battles to protect our constitutional liberty.  It was originally called Decoration Day as family and friends went to cemeteries to decorate grave sites of those who died in battle.  This custom began after the Civil War and the profound grief  over so many killed in that war north and south. The day was changed by an Act of Congress in 1967 to make for a convenient three day weekend, along with other holidays.  

The VFW in 2002 Memorial Address stated:

Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day. (Wikipedia)

IN the same Wikipedia Article:

Starting in 1987 Hawaii’s Senator Daniel Inouye, a World War II veteran, introduced a measure to return Memorial Day to its traditional date. Inouye continued introducing the resolution until his death in 2012.

As a pastor, we too have moved holy days to fit changing lifestyles. October 31 is the feast of the Reformation but now it is on the Sunday closest; likewise, All Saints, traditional date, November 1 is observed on the closest Sunday.  

The word “holiday” is literally, “holy day”.  Why did the Church celebrate holy days?  

1.  To remember the Lord’s life, the life of Israel, saints and martyrs days and events in the life of the Church.  

2. This is called the Church Year and it further was a way of teaching the truths of the Bible and in the many centuries of illiteracy.

3. Since the Church was an integral part of society and culture, the Church formed the rhythms of everyday life even down to fasting and eating. We have a cookbook with recipes according to the Church year from many European nations over the centuries.  This is the only cookbook that I have seen with tips for fasting.  So to remember the day or Church season (Lent and Easter are different in the menus!), our forefathers dined also to remember the Lord.  I think we are called by the Lord to keep faith with the dead in Christ who are alive in Him.

With the increasing secularization of culture and society, the loosening of the rhythms and patterns of the Church year have gone apace.  Our nation developed secular holidays, like July 4th, Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, I think according to the patterns of holy days for some of the same reasons: to  remember, teach and form citizens of our beloved nation.  

We can not go back, but we can not give up.  Too many congregations and denominations have forgotten the Church Year.  Lutherans can not.  If we do, then what ever the pastor, or the leadership team (I hate that phrase in the Church!) decides what to do is then the newest thing.  When everything is new, it quickly becomes old.  It’s not according to me or us but always according to the Word and the Word made flesh, not our flesh.  This is not a foolproof way of avoiding heresy, but chucking the godly traditions of the past, as they agree with Scripture and sound doctrine, the door is thrown  open wider to heresy.  As St. Augustine wrote, “What am I to myself but a guide to my own self-destruction?”

As Americans we need to know, for example, the difference between Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day.  We should visibly honor our nation and so be formed as citizens.  We should be crowding the local observances of both in our towns and cities and what comfort that would give to veterans and their families. As Christians we should be crowding the Church, say, this coming Sunday, The Day of Pentecost (which by way, is always a Sunday!) and of course every Sunday!  We need to remember and be taught and deepened in the truth of Law and Gospel in order to live as light in the world and so be formed as the Church, the Body of Christ, as citizens of the Kingdom of God.  This is not convenient and All Hallow’s Eve, Christmas and Easter are not pathetically and only “sugar holidays”.  Many have been martyred as their Christian faith is inconvenient.  May we inconvenience ourselves, and Lord teach us your precious truths. Amen.




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