We just "celebrated" Memorial Day in the United States a few weeks ago and I saw several posts that were questioning why we say Happy Memorial Day, since it's really a holiday to remember and mourn those who lost their lives fighting for our freedoms. That got me thinking about another thing that has always been a contradiction to me - that's "Good Friday." Why do we say Happy Memorial Day? Why do we say Good Friday? Both of those make no sense on the surface. Both are days when we remember sacrifice and suffering. Memorial Day became an observed holiday in 1868, and by 1890 it was observed in all states. But it was originally known as Decoration Day for the fact that people would formally go to the graves of the fallen and decorate them with flowers as a way to honor and remember their sacrifice. It's true that saying Happy Memorial Day can contribute to losing the meaning or the true purpose of the holiday, so I can see the reason people might criticize it - especially those who have lost a family member or a close friend in battle. At the same time, saying Happy Memorial Day can have meaning in that we are happy for the freedoms that were hard fought and won by those who gave their lives for those freedoms. We should honor the fallen on Memorial Day and we shouldn't say Happy Memorial Day lightly. Giving your life is a tremendous sacrifice.
Good Friday can tend to fall in the same camp as this argument. Do some lose the true meaning and ultimate sacrifice Jesus paid and the suffering he went through to pay for our sins when they celebrate Good Friday as another day off work? Possibly. For those of us who call Jesus our savior though, Good Friday was really a terrible day for Jesus and an awesome day for us. A price had to be paid for our sins and God chose to send his only Son to pay that price. Jesus stood in our place and took our just punishment. And that is so Good! We have a good, good Father and a true friend in Jesus. We can say Good Friday only because He loved us so much that He paid the price and sacrificed His life for us. Language matters. The words we use are important. At the same time, it's what's behind those words and what's in our heart that really matters most. From now on, whenever I say Happy Memorial Day I'll be more conscious of the fact that it wasn't happy at all for those who died or the loved ones they left behind. Just as I am conscious on Good Friday that it wasn't a good day for Jesus, but it was a wonderful day for us. Thank you to all who gave their lives for our freedoms and to all the family members left behind. I appreciate your service and sacrifice! What other sayings or greetings do you find conflicting? If you don't know Jesus and don't really understand why He died for you on the Cross, what step could you take to find out more? Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Are you seeking? Reach out to one of our staff members or a friend if you want to know more. We'd love to share the hope we have found in Jesus!