Megachurch pastors and Christian leaders used Twitter on Monday to express gratitude for those who died in military service.
John Piper, a well-known theologian, author of Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, and former senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota, tweeted the link to an article about Memorial Day falling on May 27th – the day John Calvin died.
The leading 16th Century Reformer died 449 years ago today. The article contained an excerpt from a book John Piper wrote with executive editor and elder at Bethlehem Baptist, David Mathis, on Calvin's life and ministry called With Calvin in the Theater of God: The Glory of Christ and Everyday Life.
Surprisingly, Calvin "took pains to fade as namelessly from this world as he could," they noted. Piper and Mathis write that "he (John Calvin) requested a burial in an unmarked grave hoping to prevent pilgrims from coming to see his resting place and engaging in the kind of idolatry he'd spent his lifetime standing against." On Memorial Day, Calvin's unmarked grave brings to mind the countless soldiers memorialized in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
Meanwhile, Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta and founder of the global Passion movement, had a short and expressive tweet that hits the spirit of Memorial Day: "Spilled blood bought freedom. Brave hearts defend it. #grateful #memorialday"
For Greg Stier, former church pastor and current president of Dare 2 Share Ministries, his tweet was very personal: "Years ago I found out my biological father was a Sergeant Major in the army, fought in Korea & was the very last POW released after the war"
Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, also took to Twitter to share his thoughts on Memorial Day. He quoted John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
While the verse foreshadows Jesus' death on the Cross, it equally praises the countless sacrifices of the men and women who died to preserve freedom in the United States and abroad.
Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Baptist Church and who served as an executive producer for the 2008 film "Fireproof," shared a story about his father-in-law, who spent 2 ½ years in a POW camp during the Korean War and died in a Virginia hospital, on Twitter. Catt's short memorial does him justice – calling him an "American hero."
Meanwhile, Burk Parsons, editor of Tabletalk Magazine and co-pastor at Saint Andrew's Chapel in Sanford, Fla., repeated the line "Freedom isn't free." He praised "those who by their death secured our life and freedom," calling others to remember them on this Memorial Day.
"Today we remember those who by their death secured our life and our freedom ensuring today would come. Freedom isn't free. #memorialday"
Johnny M. Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Woodstock in Woodstock, Ga., and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, retweeted pastor, author and speaker Paul Tripp: "Today may there be a memorial in your heart to the one death that gave you life abundant and forever," Tripp's original tweet read.
Hunt added "For this I REJOICE!" Like Driscoll, both Tripp and Hunt draw the comparison between Jesus' sacrificial death and the deaths of men and women in the armed services.
Bishop T. D. Jakes, chief pastor of The Potter's House, a 30,000-strong non-denominational Megachurch in Dallas, Texas, tweeted a picture to capture Memorial Day. The caption – and the tweet – described the holiday, "Remembering the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation."
PBS.org lists the numbers of dead in every American war from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan. World War II, with 291,557, beats the Civil War (140,414 on the Union Side and 74,524 on the Confederate), while the American Revolution weighs in at 4,435 and the Gulf War comes in last at 147.