Memorial Day is the day that asks us to pause our normal activities and remember the cost paid by men and women who have died serving our country. I mourn this Memorial Day for a broken world in which conflict and war swirl around us and that nothing is likely to change the need to defend ourselves and send our young men and women into harm’s way. It breaks my heart and words seem so hollow. Yet, in our hurting world, God speaks into the pain and heartache, and maybe it is when our hearts are most broken that we can hear God’s Spirit in ways we can’t when we’re caught up in the hustle and bustle. Stopping for a few minutes at our own Veterans cemetery, as I did this morning, is to be still and give thanks for the lives we can take for granted.
As best as I can discern, more than 660,000 men and women are listed as combat deaths. These are the lives we honor. But I can’t comprehend what that number means unless I’m willing to see what that number means in terms of a real life lost—real families grieving. I’ve invited Bill and Mary Shea to join me this Sunday to continue the conversation we started last Memorial Day weekend. Their son Tim died August 25, 2005, when an IED exploded next to his armored vehicle. Bill and Mary are inviting us into their sacred space as they remember, celebrate, and at the same time, grieve. They’re willing to share their faith as they grieve, and I get a glimpse of what it means to grieve as people of hope.
As Bill said during our last conversation, if our faith has nothing to say in the face of death, our faith has nothing to say. It is Mary’s growing conviction that crucifixion and resurrection are not two events, but one. I am struggling to articulate the deep sense that our unwillingness to sit in the ashes and mourn with one another, continues the cycle of alienation which isolates us from the real sense of community embodied in our faith. If the church cannot be the gathering of the brokenhearted who mourn, then we will never truly know the joy of eternal life present through the Spirit who embraces us this moment. The truth is, when our hearts are broken there is a space opened for God’s heart to beat within us.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.
For I have become absolutely convinced that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
See you Sunday. Here’s what I have on my desk…
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL PREPARATIONS ARE IN FULL SWING! We will have a table in the Fellowship Hall between services this Sunday with opportunities for you to donate needed items or sign up to volunteer during the week of June 26 – 30.
9:00 AM-11:30 AM: Maker Fun Factory Vacation Bible School: $35.00
11:30 AM-2:00 PM: Music Maker Arts Camp: $35.00 (includes lunch)
Register YOUR CHILDREN now at www.andrewpres.org
WE STILL HAVE OPENINGS ON THE 2017 FLOWER CHART—COST IS $65.
Sign up to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or to honor or remember a loved one.
Available dates include: August 27, September 10, and September 17.
If interested, contact the church office or make a note on your Communication Card this sunday. Prior to your chosen Sunday, you will be sent a letter from the church office confirming your sign-up, a form to fill out specifying what you would like printed in the News and Notes, and a return envelope to mail the form and your check back to St. Andrew.