West Congregational Church,
United Church of Christ
Worship for Sunday May 24, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day – a day we have set aside to honor all those who have died in the service of our country. Over time, the day evolved into a time to honor and remember all those we know who have died. I remember as a child, going to the cemetery with my mother and grandmother and visiting the grave sites of all of the family who had passed away – many long before I was even born. We left flowers at each grave and said a prayer. As time passed, and I grew up, somehow those visits stopped. Maybe my grandmother had simply gotten to old. Or maybe the task of visiting was just simply too sad, as more and more of her family passed away. Or maybe visiting simply reminded her that she too was going to someday join all those relatives, and this was something she had a hard time facing. My guess it was all of the above and probably some things I can’t even begin to guess that caused her stop going. My mother tried to revive the tradition after my grandmother passed, but she couldn’t keep it going. As an adult, I did not go when I lived close and now that I live in a different state, there is no chance I will visit. This makes me sad, so I have begun a new tradition. I take the time every Memorial Day to simply sit and be with the memories of those I loved who have passed. I remember them and what they taught me and how they lived. I say a prayer for them, and for those who remain, asking for God’s blessings.
This Memorial Day is going to be different for all of us because of the pandemic. There will be no parades, no big family get togethers. Perhaps some of you will venture out to the cemetery and plant or leave flowers and say a prayer. However, there is no doubt that it will be quite different from what you have done in the past.
This year we seemed to have more death and more tragedy than ever before. The pandemic has sickened and / or killed well over a million people worldwide. Here in our state, the news scrolls the number of cases and deaths across the bottom of our screen as we watch and hear about storms and flooding and shootings. Our way of life, our way of being has been changed so that we can remain safe and so that we can protect the most vulnerable among us. And it is hard. We wonder where God is in all of this, and some wonder if God is in all of this or if we have been abandoned by God. My faith, which comes from a place deep within, says emphatically NO! God has not abandoned us. Yes, these are tough times, but tough times have happened before, and when we have the luxury of looking back at history, we are able to see God’s presence in the midst of all of the pain and suffering. Many of us right now might be questioning if God is present in this time and with this suffering. Through my faith, I can assure you (again) that God is present with us.
So, as we enter into a very different Memorial Day, I ask that you take a moment to stop and remember those you have lost, those who have gone on before you to be with God. I also ask that you take a moment to stop and remember and say a prayer for all those who have died and those who will die as this pandemic continues. I ask that you stop and remember and say a prayer for all those who have died through storms and violence over the past year. I ask you to stop and remember and say a prayer for the families and friends of all those who have for whatever reason. I ask that you pray that they will know that God is present with them in their grief. I ask that you remember and pray for each other, that all will know God’s presence during this time of trial. I also want you to know that all of you are in my prayers. I pray that you will know, in a deep place and a powerful way, that God is indeed present and holding you in love and in care. May God continue to bless each of us.
Worship for Sunday May 24, 2020