Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

While The Wall That Heals was in town at the high school stadium, my wife and I stopped by to see the exhibit. The traveling memorial wall is a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Since 1996, the mobile wall has visited more than 400 communities throughout the United States. According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the sponsors of The Wall That Heals, “bringing The Wall to communities across the country spreads its healing legacy to millions.” This year The Wall will be displayed in over forty communities. I feel very fortunate that I was able to visit the exhibit and help honor the over 58,000 Americans who gave their lives for their country in Vietnam.

As my wife and I viewed the mobile Education Center that is part of the exhibit we were carried back to our childhoods. The exhibits told the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall, and the American experience in Vietnam in a historical and cultural context. Both my wife and I were in school during the Vietnam Era. Although neither one of us had any close family members that were casualties of the Vietnam War, anyone who lived through that period knew people who were affected. Every Vietnam veteran that I have met has been profoundly changed by their Vietnam experience.

While we were viewing The Wall, there were people of all ages at the site including a busload of senior citizens from an assisted living retirement community and families with children and teenagers. Everyone viewed The Wall quietly and respectfully. Many of the people there were looking for specific names. I overheard parents talking to their children about friends and loved ones who had died in Vietnam.

The local VFW Post hosted the exhibit, and many of the volunteers on site were veterans. I could see how meaningful the memorial was to them and how much they appreciated those who were respectfully viewing The Wall. The exhibit has an impact on those who visit it. Many people find the visit a healing experience. To be able to honor someone, to be able to reach out and touch their name is cathartic. Just knowing that these names will never be forgotten because they are permanently etched in stone is important to those who remember them.

A memorial is something that serves as a focus to help remember an event.  Are there memorials in the Bible?  There is a memorial right in the Ten Commandments.  Exodus 20:8-12 says,  “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it”.

What are we to remember when we keep the Sabbath?  That God created the heavens and the earth. When did God set up this memorial to creation?  Genesis 2:1-3 tells us, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made”.

On the seventh day of creation, God blessed and sanctified the seventh day.  It is a memorial of creation.  Many people no longer believe that God created the world in seven days.   If we deny that God is the Creator, we have no reason to worship God.

One of the main topics of the book of Revelation is worship.  The first angel’s message in Revelation 14 includes a call to the world to worship God as our Creator.  Look at Revelation 14:6,7.  It says, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.’”  God wants a people who will worship Him as Creator.

To reject the literal account of creation as found in Genesis is to reject not only Old Testament worship but New Testament worship.   In Romans 1:24,25 the Bible says,  “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

When we deny God’s creative power we end up worshiping the creation instead of the Creator.   Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”  And Hebrews 11:3 tells us that, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible”.  Faith is important to the Christian, and by faith we understand that God created the universe.

Creation is important; It is the reason we worship God, and the seventh day has stood as a memorial to God’s creative power from creation week until today.

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