Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. Leviticus 23:24 ESV
Solomon remarked there is nothing new under the sun. In preparing this blog post, I came across the scripture above…God ordained Memorial Day 3,500 years before we ever thought of it! In context, the Memorial Day proposed by God was to prepare the Israelite people for the Day of Atonement–the day the high priest made atonement for the people. Similar to our Memorial Day, this day of preparation was a day of no work: a day of solemn rest, a holy convocation.
I hope many of you participate in Memorial Day services over this weekend. My family generally goes to the west lawn of the US Capitol to participate in the PBS Memorial Day concert. It’s a time of solemn assembly, to remember the men and women who gave their lives to secure our freedom. While God has called us to work, and generally, our spiritual formation is best served through hard work, God calls us at times to stop and remember. To blow trumpets and call a holy convocation. To take a solemn rest. Yes, participating in these rituals is a form of spiritual formation. It binds us to our past, reminds us of our roots.
While I’m a strong American and treasure these American holidays, the deeper original and deepest meaning of the verse above obviously refers to the atonement of Christ for our sins. While many died to obtain our fleeting freedom (that ultimately comes from God’s providence), Christ died to obtain our eternal freedom. Freedom from sin’s power in this life and from sin’s presence in the life to come. Taking a holy day (holiday) from work on occasion to remember this bodes us well, and forms part of our ongoing spiritual formation. Enjoy Memorial Day, but take a solemn moment to reflect on the freedoms we have through Christ’s death and resurrection.