“Remembering, Celebrating, Believing”
Since Friday night wasn’t a school night, TV watching became extra special. 6:30, channel 2, CBS, “Wild, Wild West,” 7:30, “Hogan’s Heroes,” 8:00, “Gomer Pyle,” 8:30, “Mr. Roberts” which I didn’t care for so that was a break. Switch to channel 5 at 9:00 on NBC for “Man from U.N.C.L.E. A fun night whether watching it at home at my grandmother’s house. Today, I can’t remember a password I created for a website a week ago.
I can still smell the Este Lauder of the my mother and my father’s cheap Garcia Vega cigars. (Available exclusively at Walgreens!) I think we’d all agree that it’s the small and sometimes silly things best remembered. The special family dinners when the “good dishes” were used. Having a meal in Port Washington when I surprisedly discover that at the table is three generations of brother and sister. Moving the black and white on the front yard on a warm, summer night. (Why? I have no idea.) And, every Advent, my dad would assemble the four letters spelling “Noel” mounted on the front of our house. One year he wanted to spell “Leon,” just to see if anyone would notice. We talked him out of it.
One memory triggers another. Another memory may moisten the eyes a bit. It is all good to remember. Even those trying and difficult times.
We remember to remember every day but especially today – we remember.
My folks died years apart but both occurred in July. Separated by four days, my sister and I pledged to fast the middle two. We only lasted one day but the remembering by celebrating was a good intention. Being asked to preside and preach at a funeral of a high school classmate. I told the story of visiting him and telling him that my dad died. He said, “Why didn’t you tell me, I would have come.” I replied, “You didn’t tell me when your parents passed away.” I told the congregation, “That’s called male bonding.”
Remembering to celebrate. Birthdays, anniversaries, death days. At my ordination, it’s 5:00 and Archbishop Cousins says, “Where’s the mother?” She decided to walk around the block before the service began. Celebrating by remembering.
We celebrate memories every day but especially today – we celebrate.
I think we’d all agree that faith is a tricky thing. Some days it’s crystal clear facing us right in the face and the next day we feel doubtful and hesitant toward prayer or faith. The best part is our resolution. We want to believe. We need to believe. How anyone can live life without this gift of faith is beyond my comprehension.
I love when people say to me, “I have a serious question,” or “I’m having trouble believing in…” In a nice way, I say, “Wonderful.” Which means they’re taking faith seriously and not for granted as in “hook, line, and sinker.” You question without always receiving answers. But through the questioning there slowly appears clues. Hints of understanding. New insights about ancient beliefs. It’s like peeking through the closet at Christmastime to see how many gifts have your name on them.
The Benediction song written by Thomas Aquinas is the best sentence for me in all of Christendom. It says to me, “To what you don’t understand, let go of it and it may come to you in many different ways.” It says that “Faith is not a puzzle where all the pieces fit together.” It says that “Faith is not factual facts.” The keywords for our life’s journeys about any doubts and wonderings? “Trust,” “hope” and “perseverance”. Aquinas wrote, “What senses fail to fathom, let us grasp through faith’s consent.” Once more, “What senses fail to fathom, let us grasp through faith’s consent.”
6:30 on a Wednesday night, I finished writing. Turned off the laptop. Sitting back, I look out my kitchen bay window and see many blueish, black clouds as night descends.
I turn my laptop back on and continue writing because I saw one star. Only one on this Fall night. I stare at the star thinking about what I just wrote for you to hear. Is this worthy enough to be heard? There’s always more to be said. I hope that my memories may trigger yours. The star then disappeared because it was either an airplane or a dark cloud was blocking it. Yes. It was a cloud and the star reappeared. The cloud moved on and the star shined again in the darkness of that early night. Memories can do that to us. But never, ever ignore those feelings behind those memories when past lives connect, once again, to our lives.
Remembering, Celebrating, Believing. Performed every day but especially today. (Pause)
(Full song sung)