Sunday, May 27, 2007

"It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this"

I went to Lansdowne Christian Church this morning to celebrate the 103rd Memorial Day service of the Grand Army of the Republic. This is my father's church. I don't attend very often, but when I do, I am always struck by the truly spiritual touch, the modern, yet, old ways of worship, the public speaking aloud of concerns and joys during prayer, the pauses, my Dad striking his chest during a prayer, sometimes the memorization of the text, and always lots of hymns. This is a very small, old (age wise) congregation. They have one child, who attends church but attends our youth group. We share an Associate Minister within the two congregations. We are a large, very active, intergenerational congregation, with much to offer, yet I believe this older congregation has just as much to offer us. We are trying to come together but today was yet, another day, where we failed to do so. An important day in each congregation with no thought to sharing this day with each other. I think it is a lack of communication. I am not even sure our congregation is even aware of this celebration at Lansdowne. I am saddened that I had to decide this morning where I should go, which worship should I attend. I am happy with my decision, though and found the service wonderful, touching, and historical. I will attend more often.

My Uncle was the speaker today, the subject being Lincoln's Words in His Time and Ours. He spoke of the first official Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetary, with the house enshrouded in black, flowers placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers. He recited the Gettysburg address, and recited this quote "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." Speaking of the relevance of this statement to today as much as then. He spoke of history not being that long ago, despite the perception of it being ages ago, especially to youth. He spoke of Lincoln, the man, his humility, and his faith though he never joined a church. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was the first time that I heard my Uncle speak in person (I've seen him on TV). I sat with my Aunt who sang very softly, but when she did, reminded me of my Grandmother. My Sister and her husband behind me, with Carl, who sometime in the service snuck out to be the acolyte. We could see him behind a flag and My Dad whispering to him. I loved it.

After Lincoln's words, the Auxilary to the Sons of Union Veteran of the Civil War read the actual declaration made by General John Logan, spoke of the ritual of the vacant chair and sang a song. They were dressed in white with red/white and blue sashes. Then the VFW post, who has been participating in this service for 87 years, made their presentations to the alter. Very official with their salute at the end of each presentation, with a few whispers as to order. A beautiful song "Sleep Soldier Boy" sung by a friend, once again, a first for me to hear her, and lastly taps at the back of the sanctuary, with the door open, for the neighborhood to hear as well.

It was only the second time I can remember ever truly memoralizing for Memorial Day. The other time was with Girl Scouts. Typically we view it as a day off school, work, time for cookouts, or various sales at retail places. Something to think about.

I was unable to stay for conversation, lunch, and music much to my disappointment. But I had to divide my time and attend the picnic at my congregation.

A good day.


Rabbit Stitchings said...

Wondeful post... :O) ...

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful reflection on the event. I wrote Raymond what a great experience it was to look out and see he and Phyllis and you and Rachel, Eric and Carl. I was so pleased you were all there. I was so grateful for Ray's deep and moving remarks and for the opportunity to introduce Ray, something I have never done before.
Love, Dad

YHP said...

You ARE a great writer my dear. I could picture the events and even hear taps being played as I read.
I love you,