"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves," Phil. 2:3 NIV
This Sunday is a day that happens every so often. This year, Pentecost Sunday falls on Memorial Day weekend. So, as we commemorate the founding of the Church on that first Pentecost, we must not forget that it is also a time to commemorate those men and women who have given their lives during their service in the military. We honor and recognize those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, for which we all benefit from today. Yet, it is not too much of a stretch to be commemorating Pentecost at the same time as Memorial Day.
For many in the early chapter of the Church lost their lives for a greater cause, the cause of the Gospel. And according to church tradition all but one of the remaining disciples after the Resurrection were martyred for their effort in bringing the message of Christ to the world. All except John, who died of old age. I guess God had to show that it wasn’t entirely necessary to become a martyr to spread the news of Jesus to the world. Letting others know about Jesus, starting places of worship, spreading the message of Christ’s offer of abundant and eternal life, and showing the love and grace of God through Jesus by their example was much more important than anything they had to live for. And for those in military service who fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms that we enjoy today had the same spirit for their cause. That all would do so, even if it meant their death.
We stop this weekend to remember and honor those who have lived their lives with the realization that there are ideals and causes that are right and true and just. That there are ideals and causes that are greater than one’s own individual needs. As Paul writes in Phil. 2:1-4, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." These things we do for a greater cause, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.