Memorial Day is usually known as the beginning of the summer. It s a time when children and teens are excited about finishing school and finding things to do over the next few months. Men and women will be at the beach and cranking up the grill to celebrate the occasion. There’s no telling how many hamburgers were cooked these last few days.
Yesterday, our church recognized another kind of memorial, in that I read the names of members who died since Memorial Day last year. We rang a bell after each name also. It’s good to remember those who have contributed their time and friendship to those of us who remain. The longer I stay here, the harder it is to bury these devoted saints. Sometimes churches go through a season of grief when people die who had a significant place in the life of the church. We grieve, but “not as those who have no hope.”
Sunday was also Pentecost Sunday, which is usually recognized as the Birthday of the church. It ought to be more readily acknowledged by the people of God, along the lines of Easter or even Mother’s Day. Without the arrival of the Holy Spirit as depicted in Acts 2, the church wouldn’t be able to carry out its work. It’s easy to get caught up in the size of the problems facing the church rather than the power available to us through the Holy Spirit. I told the church yesterday that “we can’t help getting older, but we can help getting old.” Which means that despite two millennia of existence, the church can remain authentic and a vital influence in our culture if we focus on the message and not how the message is communicated. It’s like the seven last words of a dying church: we’ve never done it that way before.
So, on this Memorial Day weekend, let’s spend time with our families, recognize the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, and celebrate another “birthday” as the people of God called the church.