"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13 NRSV
This verse is very appropriate for Memorial Day. On this special day each year we in the United States give our heartfelt appreciation for all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in serving their country. The idea of a day of commemoration for a nation's fallen is not unique to the United States. In many countries around the globe a special day is observed for the fallen. It is a universally held, centuries-old, tradition of honoring those fallen in the line of duty. Those who given completely out of love for their friends.
In 15:12, Jesus gives the commandment, "love one another as I have loved you." It is only with a great love for others that someone would be willing to give their life. Even if observed as an act of honor or nobility, the underlying sacrificial act is one of love. In Jesus’ offering of his life, he acted not only out of love for us his friends but also as an atonement for our sins. In following his command to love each other we are his friends (15:14). While we may never be called upon to lay down our lives for our friends, we can obey his command to love each other completely. If we all can truly love in the way God wants us to love, there will be no more conflict and war.
Father God, we give you thanks for your love for us. On this special day, we observe the sacrifice of those fallen in service. We look forward to the day when there will be no more need for war. We want to love in the pure sacrificial way you want us to love but often fall short. Help us we pray, as we grow in love for you and each other. Amen.