I put the finishing touches to this Preacher’s Corner on Memorial Day…a day set aside for our nation’s peoples to remember, reflect on and honor those who gave all in service to their country. The day is intended to be a time to refrain from “business as usual” and to bring to mind and to a grateful heart those who fell in battle.
To remember well requires us to stop. It is also an act communities must do and do often. And over the past few months we have done just that. For example, some of the faiths making up the religious community have recently celebrated their defining feasts.
In early April, our Jewish brothers and sisters commemorated the liberating event of Pesah described in Exodus. Around tables and a traditional menu, they sang the praises of God who frees them from slavery and leads them to freedom.
Around the same time this year, Christians of all stripes recalled the saving death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and recommitted themselves to following him: to their dying to self and sin and to living for God and others.
Through the holidays of Shivarathri, Navarithri, and the birthday of Lord Rama, Hindus are now purified and socially renewed.
And when next I ‘m scheduled to write this column in mid August, the month long fast of Ramadan will be days away. That fast, intended to bring Muslims closer to ALLAH, will be broken by the three day feasting of Eid ul-Fitr.
Our stopping to remember helps us see that we and all the world are God’s and our little selves are part of global and ancient communities with treasured pasts and with presents blessed by our God who is in them and with us. A consciously celebrating of these days sustain and deepen our longings for the time when our hopes will be fulfilled.
In civic life over the past few weeks, our remembering has transcended the boundaries of culture, race and belief. We recently honored our mothers: they who were our first homes and shelters, they who gave us birth and/or who nurtured us. Our fathers will have their special day soon.
And let’s not overlook graduations. In the days and festivities surrounding “ this great achievement”, our graduates are provided with the occasion to review and contemplate the lessons learned – not only in the classroom but also on court, field, and stage and in those times they spent “being and doing” with friends. The graduates’ family and friends get the opportunity to honor their loved one and be amazed again at how quickly the years pass.
Yes, remembering has occupied a great deal of our time recently. But, in doing so, we come to understand who and what has shaped us and where we are going. In doing so, our sometimes scattered and “pulled- in -all –direction” selves are re-member-ed, that is, we are put back together again. This, of course, is a prerequisite for our moving forward – both individually and as a people.
So, then, with the coming summer season, perhaps we might pause again and reflect on those things that make us who we are and help us understand what we’re about together . . . May our re-member-ing continue.
The Irish have a blessing which I wish for all: “May you never forgot what is worth remembering and never remember what is better forgotten!”
Joe Lehman is Pastor of Our Lady
of Nazareth Catholic Church located
at 2505 Electric Rd (Rte 419).
You can learn more about OLN’s
Ministry at www.oln-parish.org