Memorial Day is our opportunity to remember, honor and thank those who have given their lives in the service of this country. Culturally, it has also become a nice long early summer weekend to be enjoyed while lining streets for small town parades, gathering for outdoor picnics, and jumping into freshly opened pools.
On the surface, picnics, parades and pools might seem to be inappropriately lighthearted displays of gratitude for the profound sacrifice some have made, but perhaps our enjoyment and exercise of the freedom in which we live is entirely fitting for the day.
There was no parade or pool for me today, but I would love to tell you about the picnic we hosted on Saturday. My entire extended family, numbering twenty-one people over four generations, gathered at our house for a barbeque. But this wasn’t just any barbeque. We planned to duplicate the Brazilian BBQ we enjoyed when we visited Brazil a couple of years ago. These are some of these blessings of a cross-cultural marriage in the family; new experiences, new ideas and new culinary creations.
My husband, Dan, had created a brick enclosure for grilling, the refrigerator was stocked with a variety of tasty meats, and we had purchased very cool sword-like skewers for the event. But I had my eye on the weather forecast. Rain had been predicted early in the week…then the forecast changed to party sunny…and back again. Sure enough, Saturday was dreary, drizzly and chilly. I was annoyed that the weather wasn’t cooperating with my plans. Dan and my brother-in-law Skip handled the situation much more productively. They wisely went out to purchase a canopy to install over the grill in the very likely event that it would rain. Which it did. Of course.
In the end, no one really cared that it was damp and chilly outside. We enjoyed each other, laughed a lot, passed the baby around, wore down the grass between the kitchen and the grill, soaked the towel that I put in front of the screen door, and filled the counters with empty plates and cups: all convincing evidence of a successful party. When the meat was ready to come off the skewers, we stood in a circle under the canopy, joined our hands and prayed together. The food was delicious.
A family picnic, abundant food, and free expression of our faith are blessings we take for granted in this country. In many parts of the world they are impossibilities. We celebrate the freedom others have earned for us by enjoying it.
Like my pre-party weather watching, sometimes we celebrate today’s blessings while keeping an eye on forecasts for the future of our country. Clouds and storms threaten to rain on our economic parades. Are our days of prosperity coming to an end? Is the American Dream turning into a nightmare? Or will it just be a little damp and chilly for a while?
I am certain of one simple truth: we are secure only under the canopy of God’s gracious protection and provision. Ultimately, he is the source of the freedom and blessings we enjoy. As my family stood together in prayer under cover from the rain, so we stand as believers, united in prayer for our country and depending on our God. He is honored when we acknowledge Him and enjoy His blessings.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2