Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remembrance & Community

Well, what an interesting combination, today is isn’t it…

Trinity Sunday landing squarely on

Memorial Day weekend.

Now that’s a lot to sort out…isn’t it?

But if you think about it…

both of these can be connected nicely, I think…

because today we see The Blessed Trinity in its fullest --

and at the same time here in America

honor the service of courageous people

in the name of Freedom.

Both of these are principally about

Remembrance and Community.

Specifically for American Christians

we can remember the ultimate sacrifice of Christ Jesus

for the redemption of the world,

and through His loving act/gift,

we can now here in our particular context

receive God’s Holy Spirit in faith.

And truly live as free people.

And as we learned last week,

the Holy Spirit becomes for us 21st century Christians

a whole new means or platform onto which

we can now grow into and fully experience

God’s continuous revelation for all of creation.

In other words, God’s presence is revealed by the Spirit

fully and completely when we remember Jesus here at the table

as we gather as a community.

So, there is no heresy or theological issue,

saying that

Community is strengthen and renewed

by Remembrance of those who have come before us.

Jesus and those we have loved along the way.

Now, speaking of memory…

I have a very clear memory of My mother and I

sitting at the kitchen table.

I’m writing on paper…

and must be in the first grade.

I remember the daunting task

of forming each letter slowly and with care.

But somehow my hand did not do

what my brain wished it would,

and my letters bore little resemblance

to those at the top of my tablet…

due in large part to my dyslexia.

Frustrated with my slow progress,

I remember asking my mother

to write my name on my tablet.

With ease she took the pencil and with graceful,

fluid strokes formed the letters of my name…

Mark Fitzhugh.

I remember asking, “Is that my name?”

She said, “Yes.”

And pointed to Mark and then to Fitzhugh,

sounding them out as if I had never heard them before.

And what is interesting for you to know is –

I remember a sense of awe, thinking, “That’s my name.

That’s me, right there on that piece of paper. My name.”

There was a feeling that somehow I was more real,

more important, more permanent

because my name was written down before me.

Names are important.

Trinity Sunday is about remembering the names

of the three aspects of our one God.

Memorial Day Is About Names
Tomorrow our nation pauses to remember

those who have given their lives

in service to their country.

At last count, I believe the number is now

over 5,000 US deaths in the Iraqi and Afghanistan war…

I calculated that if we read one name per Second,

it would take us well over an hour & half

to read the complete list.

Who are some of the Names you Remember

on this Memorial Day Weekend?

Today I remember

three incredibly brave young men

who could very easily slip into history

and never be remembered.

These three 20 year old men

flew B25 bombers alongside Gen Jimmy Doolittle

as volunteers in a surprise air raid over Tokyo

on April 18, 1942, following Pearl Harbor.

As some may recall, my father Bill Fitzhugh

was on that very same mission along with 75 others,

but three of his closest friends –

First Lieutenants Bill Farrow, Dean Hallmark

and Sergeant Harold Spatz,

were all three captured

following their plane crash

and were executed six months later in Japan.

Memorial Day is about names…

these three will not be forgotten.

Some of you here may have served in World War II,

or Korea, in Viet Nam, Iraq or in other arenas.

I would like for you to take a minute and either

silently or aloud…name those people on your heart today.

God Remembers all our names…
But there was a time in ancient Israel

when the people feared that God had forgotten them.

So, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah

to remind them that He had not forgotten them,

and He said -- “I have inscribed you on my palms.”

Some people – even politicians –

sometimes write things on their palms.

We do it to remember.

God did it because He can not forget.

But, how does God write your name on his palm?

Remember Thomas saying —

“Unless I see the nail marks in Jesus’ hands

and put my finger where the nails were,

I will not believe it.”

And then a week later Jesus said,

“Thomas, your name is written on my palms.

Written in these nail prints,

written in my own blood.

I haven’t forgotten about you.”

In the palms of Jesus’ hands

are written all of our names.

Especially today we see the names of

Dean, Bill, Harold, and your loved ones…

But Jesus died with us in his heart,

with our names engraved on his palms.

Indelible reminders that our names

are cherished and never forgotten

by the one God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.