Yesterday was Memorial Day in America, the day we remember those who have died in our wars. And as you expect on days like Memorial Day there's lots on social media expressing gratitude for those who gave their lives in service to America, making the "ultimate sacrifice" as we say. Many of these expressions of gratitude are very personal, people sharing pictures of parents or grandparents. On days like Memorial Day I think of my Grandpa Kline who fought in WW II and was awarded a Purple Heart. Grandpa Kline was shot and injured fighting in France.
One of the things I wondered about yesterday was if the church had a Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have been martyred for the faith. I know the Catholic Church celebrates individual martyrs throughout the year, but I was wondering if there was a single-day celebration commemorating all the Christian martyrs throughout history. I looked around online but couldn't find anything.
I was especially looking around for something that was interdenominational because, as I've written about before, Protestants are particularly lacking in this regard. Catholic readers might jump in here to note that, of course, Protestants are lacking in this regard because we have schismed and thus cut ourselves off from the martyrological legacy of the church. Anabaptists, practically alone among Protestants in this regard, could counterpoint as they have a rich and distinctive martyrological legacy of their own.
And I don't think it's a mistake that the greatest peace witness within the Protestant tradition--the Anabaptists--is the only tradition within Protestantism that has a martyrological legacy. Those two things, let me keep pointing out, go hand in hand.
I bring all this up because I think it's important for the church to have her own Memorial Day or Martyr's Day. To borrow from Paul Tillich, religion is about ultimate things. And by and large we can recognize these ultimate things by following the blood. Blood consecrates and hallows. Blood makes things sacred. Blood tells you what is most and ultimately important.
So as flags were raised across America yesterday we created a sacred, hallowed time. A collective experience of worship. A national church service.
Memorial Day was a national liturgy that shaped and directed our love toward that which is most sacred and holy in our lives. Our god will always be standing in a pool of blood. Because the pool of blood tells you what you're willing to die for, to bleed for, where your ultimate allegiance is located.
Follow the blood, it tells you what you worship.
And for most Christians in the US the American nation is the most holy and sacred thing in our lives.
And so you can see, perhaps, why I think the church might need her own Memorial Day.
Another Memorial Day to remind us that there are other things that are sacred and holy. Perhaps things even more sacred and holy.
That there is another pool of blood in which I am willing to stand.