May 24, 2019

Memorial Day is a national holiday to honor those who have died in military service. John Logan, a U.S. Congressman and Union General during the Civil War, began the memorial. As commander in chief of a Union veterans’ organization he urged the members to decorate soldiers’ graves with flowers on May 30th. Eventually it became a national holiday and extended to all U.S. war dead. Memorial Day is marked by the laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. With the current war on terror, I suspect that we are keenly aware of what soldiers sacrifice.

My memories of Memorial Day growing up are quite vivid. For a small child, it wasn’t fun for the most part, although we did cook out at the end of the day. The day was spent with my parents, my Grandma Holden, and my great-aunt. They would pick peonies from the yard and make bouquets. Then we would spend much of the day driving to cemeteries and placing these bouquets on the graves.

It seems like there were at least four cemeteries that we went to, and they were miles apart from each other. For a child, it was being cooped up in a car on a nice day in May. For the adults, it was a day of remembering and sharing family history. It was a day of honoring those who had died as soldiers. It was as the name of the day implies a day of remembering.

If you count all of the wars the United States has been involved in, we have lost 666,441+ soldiers in combat and another 673,929+ soldiers who died from accidents, privation, disease or as prisoners of war. As a child, I was witnessing adults who had lived through WWI, WWII, or both. I think I understand why they took the meaning of remembering so seriously. Those two wars represent 52% of all US combat deaths.

I wish that I could say I could find all of those cemeteries and graves, but the truth is I only remember the location of one of the cemeteries. Some family history has been lost, but an impression was made on me. As enjoyable as it was to cook on the grill at the end of that day, Memorial Day was important to them for remembering.


May 4, 2019

Does God not like leaven? I think we have to answer no. Leaven has its place in life, but it is interesting to look through the Bible at the subject.

The Passover is associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but the reason given in the text for no leaven is their haste in leaving Egypt. They didn’t have time for bread to rise, but in the subsequent celebration of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread they purposely removed the leaven. Exodus 12:34, 39, Exodus 13:3-10. Deuteronomy 16:1-8 calls the unleavened bread the bread of affliction and again notes their haste in leaving Egypt. But all of this is a reminder of the circumstances of the Exodus.

Leaven was not used with the blood of the sacrifice. Exodus 23:18 and 34:25. The grain also excluded leaven and honey. Leviticus 2:11. Why leaven is excluded is not given in the text. Some speculate that the leaven represents a corrupting influence so that it is especially not used with blood which represents life. Others have suggested that it represents a vital force in the vegetable world while the blood represents the vital force of the animal world. But we don’t have clear guidance on the reasons from the text.

Leaven could be a part of the thanks offering. Leviticus 7:11-14 and 23.17. So, leaven wasn’t always excluded just most of the time.

Jewish people would have eaten bread with leaven as a normal part of their diet.

Leaven becomes a symbol of power and influence which can be either positive or negative.

  • Leaven represents the positive and growing influence of the kingdom in Matt. 13:33; Lk. 13:21

Leaven is a negative image in the following.

  • The leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees represents their teaching and hypocrisy. Matt. 16:6, 11-12; cf. Mk. 8:15; Lk. 12:1
  • Leaven is the corrupting influence of immoral behavior that hasn’t been disciplined in the church.1 Cor. 5:6
  • Leaven is the corrupting influence of false teaching in Gal 5:9 with the warning that a little leaven can leaven the whole lump if you are not careful.

We use unleavened bread in the Lord’s Supper because that is what would have been at the Institution of the Lord’s Supper at Passover. But we like the Jews use leavening on a regular basis in our food. As readers, we need to remember that leaven can be a power image for either good or evil.