Memorial Day Prayer
Lord of the nations, on this day when we remember the struggles
through which our country has gone in its efforts to preserve our liberties, we thank Thee
for having made our country great and our people free. Above all do we thank Thee for the
blessings of religious liberty to preach Thy Word without hindrance and to worship Thee
according to the dictates of Thy holy and infallible Word.
We pray Thee to
hold Thy gracious protecting hand over us and over all the people of our country. Guide
those in authority and grant them wisdom so to rule that peace and prosperity may be ours
according, to Thy will.
Thou hast told as
that that nation is blessed whose God is the Lord and therefore we pray most of all that
Thy Gospel, which alone can make men truly free, may be preached in all its truth and
purity throughout our land. Thou hast granted us religious liberty.
Help us to use this
freedom to the fullest extent, so that through the length and breadth of our nation men
may hear from Thy people the good news of their salvation in Christ. Bring to us and to
them and to all men all over the world that peace which passes all understanding and which
is to be found in the knowledge that Jesus loves us and has redeemed us from all our sin.
We ask it in His name. Amen
Memorial Day Sermon:
Freedom and Bondage
based on Acts 16:16-34
by Rev. Randy Quinn
On the altar table, I have a Bible and my sword. I will take the sword into my hands as
As a Veteran, I am frustrated by the way we celebrate Memorial Day. It seems to have
lost its meaning. Our celebrations have lost their connection with the purpose of the
holiday. And any attempts to have a serious celebration seem trite. ? So in many places,
there are no more parades. ? There are no more special worship services. ? There are no
special tributes made to the men and women who gave their lives for our country.
As a pastor, on the other hand, I am even more frustrated by people who insist that we
should make this national holiday a focus of our Sunday morning worship service on
Memorial Day weekend. ? Our task as the church is not to memorialize the dead, but to
celebrate the resurrection. ? Our task is not to look at what men and women have done to
give us freedom but to look at what God is doing to make us free. ? Our purpose in
gathering here today is to offer ourselves to God in response to what God has done for us,
it is to look towards God for direction and guidance.
As a Naval Reserve Chaplain, this tension gets lived out every time I put on my
uniform. ? Who do I represent? ? The country I serve? ? Or the God I serve? ? To whom do I
give my allegiance?
This is the sword I was given when I was first commissioned in the Navy. It belonged to
my father, who had also been a Naval Officer. While it still belongs to me, it represents
in a very real sense the tension I feel because as a Naval Chaplain, I am no longer
authorized to wear it with my uniform.
You see, the battles I am commissioned to fight do not involve the shedding of blood.
The battles I fight are more about life than about death; they are about freedom in its
truest sense (Eph 6:12).
I will lay the sword down and pick up the Bible now as I prepare to read from it.
Our text today speaks about that kind of freedom. As we listen to the story, I'd invite
you to pay particular attention to who is in bondage and who is free. As the story
unfolds, you may be surprised:
What did you notice?
Let's take them one at a time. What about the slave girl? Is she free? (Allow time for
people to actually verbally respond to the question -- some will say yes, some will say
As Americans, we cherish the right to "Freedom of Speech" which the slave
girl seems to capture. It appears that she is speaking the truth freely. But the truth is
she has no choice. Not only is she in bondage to the demon who forces her to speak, she is
also in bondage to the men who own her.
She is in many ways the ancient predecessor to the Psychic Network, except she comes to
you rather than waiting for your phone call. But the difference is she has no choice. The
demon inside her controls her words and her actions. This is not a profession of faith she
is making, it is a taunting intended to trivialize what Paul and Silas are doing.
And what about the owners of the slave girl? Are they free? (Again, wait for a
They seem to be free, until someone touches their source of income. Then it's clear
that they are in bondage to money. They are so callous that when the girl is healed they
I suppose the same kind of thing happens today. You are doing a good job and are very
dependable, but the one who really benefits from your work is the company. And when you
get married or have children or begin to claim time for family, you are punished -- or
worse your family is punished.
I wouldn't want to work for a boss like that. But all too often, employees are put in
positions where they have to choose between work and family, between love and money.
The slave is actually free by the end of our story while we can see that the slave
owners are enslaved to their own desires.
What about the Magistrates? You may be catching on to me by now. (Do not wait for a
They certainly seem to be free. They sit in judgment on the affairs of the city, and
make decisions based on fairness and honesty and decency. But the local businessmen must
have financed the last election campaigns. What the businessmen say isn't questioned
because the Magistrates really aren't free to make their own choices.
Like many of us, they have lived in the same small town all of their lives and must
continue to live there. So they choose the side of protecting their community from outside
influence. They are in bondage to their own sense of nationalism and tradition. They
really aren't free. There is no choice other than to imprison the guilty parties.
Then there is the prison guard.
In all likelihood, he is a retired Roman soldier. No more travelling the Roman Highways
to enforce the laws of the land, he is settled into a home and a community where he gets
the enviable position of keeping guard over the jail. Enviable because he is free from the
demands of day to day military discipline, free from the responsibility involved in
leading troops into battle, free to have a family.
But when it appears that the prisoners have escaped, we see that he is in bondage to
the image of an honorable and faithful servant of the crown. Rather than face punishment
for freeing the convicts, he makes it look like he was killed in the escape.
It's rather ironic that had he been successful, he would have literally fulfilled
Jesus' prophecy that "those who live by the sword will die by the sword" (Mt
26:52). (I don't believe Jesus meant it in a literal way. I think Jesus was talking to
communities. And his voice seems to be echoing throughout our land as young people are
taking the lives of other young people with guns.)
Pick up sword again for a moment.
Who is free and who is enslaved? ? The children who carry guns to school? ? The
children whose parents keep them home from school? ? Or the families who lift up their
heads and say, we're not going to let fear control my lives?
Jesus says that he came to give us the truth and the truth will set us free (Jn 8:32).
Set the sword down again.
Paul and Silas understand that. They are in prison stocks. Of all the characters in
this passage, they seem to be the ones most clearly in bondage. Yet they act the most
free! _ They sing. _ They celebrate. _ They pray. _ They recognize who God is in the midst
of their crisis, and they allow God to be God.
Not many of us have been in jail, but most of us have experienced bondage. ? We have
been slaves to our clocks. ? We have been slaves to our calendars. (I was appalled the
first time I saw a High School student with a Day Timer, until I realized our culture has
taught us to live in bondage to our schedules.) ? Many of us are -- or have been --
enslaved by our children and their desires and wishes. ? We are in bondage to our jobs. ?
We are slaves of security -- both financial and emotional.
While we claim to be free, the truth is most of us have traded our freedom for bondage.
Meanwhile God has been calling us to true freedom. The freedom of choice, the freedom of
love, the freedom of grace.
As a Veteran, I want to encourage you to celebrate Memorial Day tomorrow. I want you to
stop and remember those who laid down their lives for our country to protect your freedom.
As your pastor, I want to encourage you to celebrate the ONE who laid down his life so
you might be free to live.
I've told you before that the song written by a black man named James Weldon Johnson.
It has been referred to as the Black National Anthem. I believe it captures the sense of
freedom that God has given us:
Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring, ring with the harmonies of
liberty; let our rejoicing rise high as the listening skies, let it resound loud as the
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us; sing a song full of the
hope that the present has brought us; facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us
march on till victory is won.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who hast brought us thus far on
the way; thou who hast by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee; lest our hearts drunk
from the wine of the world we forget thee; shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever
stand, true to our God, true to our native land.
Join with me and set aside the things that hold us captive, that we might continue to
In Times of War
a children's sermon for Memorial Day
props: A daily newspaper with pictures and articles about the war.
The newspapers are filled with articles and pictures of war. Every time you turn on the
television the news broadcasts are filled with stories about war. When you hear people
talking, it isn't long before you hear the subject of the war brought into their
conversation. It seems that everywhere we turn, all we hear is talk about the war.
Many of us have friends or family members who have had to leave their jobs and families to
enter the military because of the war. These are difficult and confusing days. If these
are difficult and confusing days for adults, I know that these times must be difficult for
children to understand.
Why do wars happen? I think that wars happen for the very same reasons that children get
into fights on the playground:
- Someone has something and someone else wants it.
- Someone said something and someone else didn't like it.
- Someone is different and someone else doesn't like them.
- Someone is hurting others and someone needs to stop them.
the way God meant for it to be, but that's the way it is and that's the way it will always
be until Jesus comes again to take us to heaven to be with him. (Matthew 24:6 and Mark
13:7) So, what can we do, and what should we do when there is war? I think there is really
one answer -- PRAY!
PRAY for those who have served and who are serving in the military to protect our
country and try to make the world a safer place.
God's protection! God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm
PRAY for God's for guidance! In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy
paths. Proverbs 3:6
PRAY for world leaders! [Pray] for kings and all those in authority, that we may live
peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our
Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy
PRAY for our enemies! Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Luke 6:27
Heavenly Father, we don't understand all that is going on in the world today, so we turn
to you in prayer. We put our trust in you to guide us through these difficult days. Amen.