When I realized we would be celebrating both Pentecost and Memorial Day this weekend, I was struck by the incongruity: Honoring the birth of the Christian church and the death of so many warriors at the same time seemed odd, almost uncomfortable.

But the more I considered it, the more fitting it became. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit spoke through the disciples and asked those gathered to embrace the cause of the Cross, to be willing to defend the kingdom of the Lord to the death and beyond. As believers, we are asked to follow in their footsteps, to joyously put aside all else to devote ourselves to serve God and His people, and to be grateful every day for His blessings.

Likewise, the selfless sacrifice embodied by those we honor on Memorial Day, those who laid down their lives to defend others and to protect the world from evil, is a model for us, as citizens and as people of God. Those who fell in battle lift us up, inspiring us through their example and their sacrifice. Their willingness to pay the highest price to defend our country should remind us daily to be grateful for the blessings of being an American.

May their example help us to be effective soldiers in the army of the Lord. If the Holy Spirit of Pentecost truly lives in our hearts, we are open to His call and will go forth to serve without hesitation. Therefore, like so many before us, let us be selfless warriors. Let us go forth in defense of the Kingdom, seeking to fight evil in all its guises, prepared to do anything and everything the Spirit asks.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Ephesians 6:10-13