Our country’s summer season unofficially begins with Memorial Day Weekend, but this year will feel a little different as our world slowly wakes from its long pandemic hibernation. We found creative ways to continue much loved activities over the past 14 months, but we now face the uncertainty of entering the new normal of fully reengaging with the outside world. This sparks cautious hope for some, foreboding fear for others, and unspoken anxiety for most. It does my heart well to see so many of you on Sunday morning for in person worship and our new YouTube livestream. I am also encouraged to know many of you read the bulletin and printed sermons in your homes. We’ve come so far together, and my encouragement today is to keep the faith and not to lose hope; we’re not where we need to be yet. In his first inaugural speech, Abraham Lincoln spoke to the nation’s fears as the threat of Civil War would soon become a reality. I believe these timeless words are as true this Memorial Day as they were 160 years ago.
“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
There are members of our congregation who received vaccination shots many months ago, and there are others who are still waiting. Several are eager to get back to singing in church, hugs in the narthex, and meals in Gleason Hall. Others cannot risk infection and can only connect with the church remotely. St. Mark has nearly 600 members, and that means we have hundreds of different opinions on everything. Some might argue this is a weakness, but I believe our diversity is our greatest strength. We model the unifying love of Jesus Christ every time we exhibit patience, kindness, forgiveness, and mutual forbearance with one another. The world is especially divisive right now, but it should never be that way inside the church. God calls each of us to exhibit the “better angels of our nature” inside the church and out in our neighborhoods.
I believe the Apostle Paul’s words are helpful here, “Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh” (Galatians 3:3, NRSV.) Put another way, as we get closer to returning to a new normal, don’t forget who you are; don’t forget whose you are. The Session is working to open the church’s doors to additional activities safely in the coming weeks. The pace might not be what everyone wants, and I ask that you have patience with us as well. As we enter the summer months, may we remember our “better angels” and exhibit Christ’s love by our patience, kindness, and fidelity to one another.
In Hope and Confidence,
Pastor Dave and Pastor MP