Friday begins Memorial Day weekend. When I was a child the Friday before Memorial Day was always the last day of school; but what was really special about Memorial Day was going to the cemetery to decorate graves.
I think most cemeteries in the south designated a specific Sunday as “Decoration Day” but I recall Memorial Day as the official “Decoration Day”.
I always looked forward to Decoration Day. My Granny would buy artificial flowers, a few at a time, over the weeks leading up to it. Then she’d sort through the flowers and tell us stories about the people whose graves she was going to decorate. She had a flower for every grave.
As a child, I wasn’t afraid of death; it was a part of life. Through Granny’s stories, everyone still seemed alive and important. She spoke of her baby brother, Ryder – he’d get a little blue rose or carnation. There was Aunt Meg, who died in childbirth, she’d get 2 flowers. Granny’s parents would get flowers, as would all her friends and relatives. I wish I could remember all the stories.
It wasn’t a day filled with mourning and grief. Yes, there would be tears, but mostly, I recall reunions with the living: hugs, kisses, and catching up.
Occasionally there were fiddlers or guitar pickers and we’d sing hymns. Sometimes we’d get together with others for a potluck picnic. And there was always a rush to visit one more cemetery before it got too dark.
While we never really knew exactly what the day would hold, one thing was certain: the graves continued to hold the bodies buried there. But not forever…
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” – John 5:28-29 NIV
Last week I got to teach a class on the Resurrection of Jesus. What a privilege to declare that when the women went to Jesus’ grave that Sunday morning He was not there. The stone had been rolled away, not to let Jesus out, but to let them and others in to examine the evidence. The evidence was, and is, indisputable. The grave clothes were there, undisturbed, yet empty. Jesus had risen, as He said He would.
The empty tomb verifies every word that Jesus spoke. It verifies that He is the unique and sinless Son of God. It verifies that Scripture is true. It assures that we will one day have resurrected bodies!
“Christ has indeed been raised… So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable…” – 1 Corinthians 15:20-58 – NIV
On this Memorial Day, the graves my Granny decorated are still there. Her grave is there. But she is alive in heaven because she loved and trusted her salvation and her life to her Lord – Jesus Christ of Nazareth; the unique Son of God and Son of Man.
When it’s my grave being decorated, I want people to smile as they think of me alive with Jesus. How do you want your loved ones to remember you?