Author Topic: Memorial Day, 2020  (Read 915 times)

Dan Fienen

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Memorial Day, 2020
« on: May 19, 2020, 03:19:29 PM »

My congregation has a long standing tradition on Memorial Day Weekend to honor those from the Armed Forces who died in service, as well as remember members and family and friends of member who died in the last year. (Yes, I know that remembering family and friends who have died is not exactly what Memorial Day is supposed to be about, but for many it has come to mean that also.) I know that Memorial Day is a national rather than church holiday and honoring the Armed Forces is problematic for some (not honoring is problematic for others) but this year in particular I think that we have a special opportunity to reflect on those who risk and give their lives for others.


I'm reminded of this comment on Memorial Day written by Paul W. Nesper in 1952 in his volume Biblical Texts.


"On the 30th of May, America pays tribute to her soldier dead. The day has found a permanent place in the calendar of national holidays, and well so, for any nation which is unmindful of its heroic past will be heedless of its possible future. The church can ill afford to ignore holidays of this nature which touch the very heart of our nation life. A sense of dependence upon God as a nation will contribute much to the spirit which makes a nation strong. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord," Ps. 33:12"


We have had only one death in our congregation recently and that likely from heart related issues rather than Covid-19. Yet our people can see the toll that this disease has taken on our country and in our state, Detroit has become on of the major hot spots. And we can honor especially this year the first responders, medical personnel, and essential workers who have risked much and given many lives in service to their neighbors. We can also honor their families who also have risked and given much during this pandemic, and continue to do so.


I feel that this Memorial Day can be a good time to reflect on this and on the hope that we have in God, Whose Son Jesus gave His life for us.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
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Dave Benke

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Re: Memorial Day, 2020
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2020, 05:03:25 PM »
Thanks for this good post, Dan!

In this The Time of Live-Streaming, we begin every gathering, prior to the invocation, with the Pledge of Allegiance and then a Thank You to essential workers and health workers.  One of our parishioners lost her cousin, a health care worker, to the virus.  He was buried last week with no one in attendance.  Then the funeral home delayed informing the family of the burial for another two days.  Dignus es Agnus Dei - because the Lamb of God is worthy, we who follow are to treat each individual with dignity and respect.  That has taken a hit in these days, even as so many have been thankful and so many have been thanked.

Dave Benke

Charles Austin

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Re: Memorial Day, 2020
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2020, 05:51:38 PM »
Pastor Fienen, you are right on target concerning Memorial Day.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Article coming up in Lutheran Forum journal. Now would be a good time to subscribe.
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J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Memorial Day, 2020
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2020, 07:52:15 PM »
It was twenty-two years ago that I first celebrated a Liturgy on Memorial Day itself, not the Sunday preceding.

The experience was so moving that reflecting on experience was the basis of a meditation for the parish newsletter the following year.  David Merchant, webmaster of U.S. Memorial Day.org added it to his collection of "speeches"

http://www.usmemorialday.org/Speeches/Other/shelley1999.htm

and since then it has taken on a life of its own, sometimes reposted in whole or in part on various blogs.

Instituting that liturgy would be in my top five of "achievements" in serving that congretation; and leaving that behind was one of the more painful aspects of parting.

Except that, in the York Greek community there is a beautiful custom of gathering in the "Greek section" of a large commercial cemetery for a Trisagion Service on Memorial Day morning.

Because our County will be moved into PA Governor Wolf's "Yellow Phase" on Friday we will be able to gather--provided that those gathered number 25 or less.  Father Andrew has figured out that by offering three Trisagions, an hour apart at 10, 11, and 12 we will be able to remember the deceased of the community while complying with the executive order.

So we will assemble in the hallowed ground and pray:

Quote
O God of spirits and of all flesh, You trampled upon death and abolished the power of the devil, giving life to Your world. Give rest to the soul(s) of Your departed servants in a place of light, in a place of green pasture, in a place of refreshment, from where pain, sorrow, and sighing have fled away. As a good and loving God, forgive every sin  they have committed in word, deed, or thought, for there is no one who lives and does not sin. You alone are without sin. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your word is truth.

For You are the resurrection, the life, and the repose of Your departed servants, Christ our God, and to You we offer glory, with Your eternal Father who is without beginning and Your all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

Amen.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 12:14:59 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
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Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
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Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

Dan Fienen

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Re: Memorial Day, 2020
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2020, 10:32:27 AM »
In a previous parish the two MO Synod churches in town jointly owned and operated a cemetery. Every year on Memorial Day itself we would hold a joint service of the two congregations in the cemetery that included a reading of the members of both churches who passed away in the previous 12 months. The congregations took turns hosting and officiating at the service. It was especially meaningful to hold the service in the midst of the graves of so many of our fellow believers and members.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
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NCLutheran2

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Re: Memorial Day, 2020
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2020, 08:58:06 AM »
In a previous parish the two MO Synod churches in town jointly owned and operated a cemetery. Every year on Memorial Day itself we would hold a joint service of the two congregations in the cemetery that included a reading of the members of both churches who passed away in the previous 12 months. The congregations took turns hosting and officiating at the service. It was especially meaningful to hold the service in the midst of the graves of so many of our fellow believers and members.

I'm just curious, Pastor Fienen, why was that service held on Memorial Day and not All Saint's Day? (And I'm genuinely curious, I'm not one of those folks who thinks that civic holidays have no place in the church.)

At my home church, the custom used to be that all of the veterans would process in and sit together on the Sunday before Memorial Day. When I was a kid, it seemed like there were 50 men who had served, most all World War II. A subsequent pastor did away with the custom, and now there's neither any old veterans able enough or any younger ones to participate.

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Memorial Day, 2020
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2020, 07:37:45 PM »
We did assemble three times...no more than 25 at each service, not that anyone was counting.
They were "socially distanced" by families, generally standing near their own family's grave plot.

It was good to see folks whom I had not seen since the final "open" services on Sunday March 15 and Monday March 16.

But what was truly wonderful was that since we are in the final days before Orthodox Ascension Day and therefore within the season of Pascha the beginning of the Trisagion is the threefold singing of the Paschal Troparion:

Christ is Risen from the dead
Trampling down Death by death
And upon those in the tombs,
Bestowing Life!


The faithful sang along...the only opportunity many have had for such corporate singing this whole Paschatide.
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015