According to the easiest reference available to me at this moment, Wikipedia, Memorial Day is defined as “a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war.”
I remember as a kid Memorial Day being the one day every year when I marched as a Cub Scout to the cemetery at the edge of town. We raised the flag, decorated the graves and honored those from our small town who served in the military; an act that always made the respect shown more personal. Then afterwards everyone would scatter to the gravesides of all their family members and remember them, whether or not they had served in the military. Talking about the death of anyone can push the button of remembering just about everyone you have loved and lost, especially if you’re already at the cemetery. So why not pay them a visit.
Wikipedia also says that Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of summer. I heard on the weather last night that we’ve had both snow and temperatures in the 90’s in the Twin Cities for Memorial Day. Once again we in Minnesota prove that summer is a relative term. Whenever you say it’s the beginning of summer, it usually marks the beginning of doing some outside activities with your weekend.
In over 30 plus years of ministry I’ve come to recognize summer as a time of slowing down of some activities at church and lowered expectations for worship attendance on Sunday morning. This is one reason that in the churches I’ve served we remember those who have died in our church community on All Saints Sunday, the first Sunday of November. You want the chance at good attendance on All Saints Day! It’s also a Sunday when Christians who don’t happen to be citizens of the U.S.A. remember loved ones.
This Sunday, is the last Sunday of Pentecost and Memorial Sunday…Already! We are going to bridge this gap between our cultural calendar, the beginning of summer and the following time which is set to the timing of Christian tradition. We will be exploring the question that comes from an inspired eighth grader who asked, “What do Christians Say about the Death of Someone You Love?” We will remember more formally those, as we use to say have, “Gone on to glory,” in our congregation in November.
Today I wanted to: A) Let you know about this topic. B) Encourage you to attend worship… at which we will count on the presence of the Holy Spirit…and hear “The Navy Hymn” as our postlude. C) Wish you a happy beginning to summer.
Keep the Faith!