This Day and This Weekend

Here are my thoughts for Pentecost Sunday and Memorial Day.
This is an interesting weekend. I don’t know how many times Pentecost and Memorial Day coincide but it probably occurs fairly often. But on this day and this weekend, we need to stop and think about what has transpired and what will happen in the coming days.

While Memorial Day is a day that we are supposed to remember and honor those who died in service to our country, it seems to me that we see this day and this weekend as sort of the beginning of summer. Everything, it seems, is focused on summer-based sales and summer time activities. Very little is mentioned about what this day really means.

Oh, yes, there will be many speeches by many a politician about the honor, service and sacrifice of those whose death we honor with this weekend. But no matter what side of the political aisle the speaker may stand, the speeches will take on the aspect of glorifying war and how vigilant we must be in the protection of our countries.

Now, my wife and I and our families have three flags that were given to us “with the thanks of a grateful nation” and neither of us want the honor, service, or sacrifice of our family to be dishonored or forgotten. But I think that anyone who speaks of war in the present and future tense is doing just so. The context always seems to be how we must fight future wars in order to honor those who have fallen on battlefields in past and present wars.

Yet, no one speaks of removing war from the vocabulary of society. It is always about using war to combat war and terrorism; nothing is ever said about eliminating the need for war by eliminating the causes of war and terrorism. And on this weekend when the early church came together and spoke with a common voice, the church today seems remarkably silent on the topic of eliminating and preventing war and terrorism.

And while our churches are silent, the voices of parents who have lost children and children who have lost parents grow louder each day. We are reminded of the quote first attributed to the Greek philosopher, Herodotus, “in peace, children bury their parents; in war, parents bury their children.” But we are finding that while parents are burying their children, children are also burying their parents. We have finally achieved an equal-opportunity war, as if death ever needed an equal-opportunity program. What we will find is that in a few years, there will be no one left to bury the dead for we will have killed an entire generation. And yet the churches of today remain silent.

Our politicians offer only words of fear, claiming that we must fight terrorism now before it strikes again. And if there are those who speak out against such language, they are quickly labeled cowards and/or un-patriotic. Politicians today, and I speak of those on both sides of the aisle, speak to our fears and offer very little in the way of removing fear from our lives. Could it be that if fears are removed, they have very little to offer that would make this world a better place? When this church began, those who watched its birth were fearful because of the changes that came over the people gathered together. But, as Peter proclaimed, there was nothing to fear for it was the presence of the Holy Spirit that brought about the change. Yet, today the church is silent about such changes.

When Jesus began His ministry, he spoke of bringing comfort to the afflicted, healing the sick and bringing hope and freedom to the oppressed. Yet, in this day and age, when thousands die for both the causes and outcomes of war, when thousands are without adequate shelter and drinking water, when thousands languish in jails of the body and the mind, the church today remains remarkably silent.

This is Pentecost Sunday (or the weekend of Pentecost); this is the birth of the church. This was the time that countless Christians came together and the divisions between peoples and societies that began with the building of the Tower of Babel were erased by the presence of the Holy Spirit. People of different cultures and different languages were able to speak with others; the presence of the Holy Spirit removed the years of division. Yet today, the modern church seems intent on division and discourse, not unity and conversation.

Are we able to say today that we are centered on the same things that were the focus of the early church? Are we able to say that we are bringing people to the church, or are we saying that because of your race, color, creed, status, or lifestyle you are not welcome in this church? Are we able to say today and this weekend that the church we have reflects the early beginnings that are the basis for who we are and what we do?

The early church was a community of believers, united in one common belief and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It was a community that made sure that even the least of its members were not forgotten. It was a community of love and sharing. Are these the hallmarks of the church today?

When we say that we are Christians, we say that we identify with Christ. We say that we are committed to the mission that Jesus Christ first announced some two thousand years ago in the synagogue in Nazareth. On this day and this weekend, when we honor the service and sacrifice of many and we celebrate the birth of our church, can we say that we are carrying out that mission? Are we speaking out against those who see war as the only answer? Are we speaking out to insure that all who are sick can be healed, that all those without shelter or clothes are able to find adequate shelter and clothing?

On this day and on this weekend, we should honor those who have died by seeing that others need not die. And we can do that by carrying out the mission that Jesus Christ proclaimed to the world. On this day and on this weekend, we need not be silent anymore.

1 thought on “This Day and This Weekend

  1. Good thoughts.

    We were talking about how hard it was for ministers and churches to decide which to emphasis more or just to do one.

    Our church here did Penecost and not Memorial Day.

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