Here are my thoughts for 24 May 2020 – 7th Sunday of Easter/Ascension Sunday (Year A). This was also Aldersgate Sunday and Memorial Day Sunday. Please note that this summer, the “Back Page” will focus on the back stories for favorite hymns.
When I began thinking about this piece, it was with Ascension Sunday in mind. Probably because I don’t spend much time in the “outside” world, I had a hard time connecting this Sunday with Aldersgate Sunday and Memorial Day.
The problem with Memorial Day has more to do with the calendar than anything else. Since Memorial Day on the 4th Monday of the month, it sometime comes before the end of the month and you have to scramble to remember to observe it. And I wonder if we were, borrowing from the title of this piece, ready for it.
After all, Memorial Day is supposed to be that day when we remember those who have died in the service of this country. But so much of this country have wanted, in light of the pandemic, for Memorial Day to mark the beginning of summer, we are perhaps not ready to remember those who have died in the service of this country.
And the memories are not just of those who died while on military service but the many people who have died because of the virus that has swept this world. So I am not entirely sure that we are ready for this Memorial Day.
I do not think that John Wesley was ready for what was to take place on May 24, 1738 when he went to the Aldersgate Chapel. Nothing he had done seemed to have worked; his plan for salvation was not working and he had returned from America with a sense of despair and defeat. I do not think he was ready to feel his heart strangely warmed by the experience in the Chapel that night. But he was ready to understand what that meant and it is clear that, because he was ready, what became the Methodist Revival became a reality.
And how did the Disciples and other followers feel that day, 40 days after the Resurrection? One has to think that they were not ready for Jesus to leave them and I am pretty sure that they were not ready to take the next step in the mission laid out before them.
But Jesus knew that they were not ready and He told them as He ascended to remain together and the Holy Spirit would be with them.
Were you ready for that moment when the Holy Spirit came into your life? Are you ready to help others have that moment?
There are many who want to get out into the world right now but it is not the time. We may not like this imposition of waiting but then many of those gathered that day 2000 years ago probably did not either. And just as that day for which they were to prepare was unknown, perhaps so too is that date for us.
But, remembering the words of Louis Pasteur that chance favors the prepared mind, we can prepare for that day.
On this day when we remember many individuals, some we knew and many we did not know, we know that memories are best served by what we do.
Are you ready?