”You are the soul, enchanted with its wings,
The single voice that raises up the dead
To shake the pride of angels.
I have said.”
These words are from Stephen Vincent Benet’s poem DIFFERENCE. This poem always comes to my mind before Memorial Day Weekend. In my “31 years” I have often been struck by our collective disregard to memorialize the heroes who gave their lives for our nation because this holiday weekend has become so focused on the “me/my” time barbecues, trips to the shore or days off from school and work. However, it is for the heroes that this set-aside day was established in 1868.
This weekend will be more challenging as more voices across the nation are declaring it’s all about “ME/MY” while denying the realities of COVID-19 because they don’t like the actions that are in place to protect all of us. People not wearing masks; people holding large parties and gatherings, putting people close together, even putting a sense of “guilt” into those that don’t attend; and people demanding we get closer than 6 feet with others. After all these weeks of isolation it seems easier for some to push aside those who are still sick, those who are still grieving, and those who every day are putting their lives on the line caring for people impacted by this insipid global virus. That is not the flu folks! It is still killing real people of all ages. Although the numbers are improving we still must show love for all of our neighbors, not just satisfy ourselves by being careful and following the guidelines and rules.
As most of you know, I found out on Tuesday that a good friend since the mid-1970s died of coronavirus last weekend. Joe was a fun guy who was incredibly talented and totally devoted to giving back to the community. He just happened to be my friend, as was Pastor Sherrie who died a few weeks ago from the virus. Doctors and nurses around the country are also dying.
So I share this real truth while also letting you know that we are moving slowly and carefully to reopen while our community, our state, and our nation are also taking steps to reopen. St. Paul’s has put together a leadership team that will be working with our Bishop and Conference leadership as well as with government officials to safeguard all of us and any person who might want to come to St. Paul’s. We will have protocols and will not rush us back just for the sake of making some people happy. We cannot put any person at risk just because we want to be back together.
St. Paul’s has continued to be a church for the world 7 days a week and almost literally 24 hours a day since this started. Our volunteers have been incredible; we are feeding hundreds of needy people monthly; and people around the world are worshiping with us on Sundays. Online and streaming worship is a reality that will continue into the future! Our Leadership Team has approved a new Technological budget line and we will be accepting donations to make our streaming worship services more “professional” in appearance and sound.
So back to my poem. I am asking you (if you are out shopping this weekend and able do to so safely, with a mask on!) to be “the voice” raising up the dead by purchasing one or more small American flags, which will be placed in front of our church in memory of the heroes who have given their lives for the nation. Memorial Day does not honor those living individuals who have served the nation … it honors those who gave their lives for the nation. I am including the more than 100 nurses nationwide and the numerous doctors who have died from the virus in our Memorial Day memories. On Monday morning at 9:30, I will be using my PD@930 Facebook devotion to remember these heroes and plan to read the names of nurses who have died from the virus.
Pentecost is coming … a new weekly streamed Communion service is coming … information on how St. Paul’s starts to come back together is coming, but it will be in small numbers initially … but in the meantime we are a church that worships together, cares for the hurting, and lives following Jesus’ directive to love all of our neighbors as He loved! The people of St. Paul’s are known for loving all others, not for loving ourselves first! Each of us is called to make new disciples for Jesus Christ and we are doing that!
Please join us in singing and prayer in our worship service Sunday morning.