given on Sunday, May 24, 2015
All too often we have a holiday weekend and discover that Sunday’s worship service is smack dab in the middle of it. For those who meet each week, worship is part of the basic routine. For many, though, this is the weekend to get away and attending church quickly is checked off the plans.
Over the decades since Memorial Day was established as a national holiday, another basic expectation was to decorate the graves of the family members. The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, even the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the Confederacy all participated in special events honoring all those who have served.
The legacies of all these individuals are celebrated. Today, the practice of decorating the graves is dwindling, as families look more toward the holiday events of the living. The legacy of the young families today is changing—some for the good and some for the bad. The practices that we have used to honor the legacy of those before us are disappearing.
The historians of our congregation have outlined the legacy of this church today. The people and the events that were central to the healthy status of the church did indeed leave a legacy. The concern is whether or not today’s congregations are able to continue the legacy.
Today is not a day for answers or for arguments; rather it is a day for reflection. Hearing the history of the church is important so the younger ones know the legacy they are going to leave.
Today is also Pentecost. According to the scripture, this is the day all the Apostles were meeting and the Holy Spirit descended upon them and the other early disciples who were present. The Holy Spirit is the working force within each Christian that lights that candle of hope on the dimmest of days and the brightest of days.
The scripture from Acts is the most familiar concerning the reports of the Holy Spirit’s baptism, and it was the words of the followers that created the biggest surprise—speaking in tongues. Many still question how this happened, but that concern serves no purpose, as it is one gift among many that God gives the faithful followers.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit is important in understanding the legacy that people leave. It is part of the legacy of the church, too. As difficult as it is to explain the concept of the Holy Spirit, it can be easy to explain how to recognize it within one’s self. The Holy Spirit is the way that God uses us to spread his love, to meet the needs of others, and to heal the sick whether mentally or physically. The Holy Spirit is God alive within each and every one of us.
Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect time to honor the legacy of all the men and women who have served to protect our country, but it is also the perfect time to honor the legacy of our churches.
And honoring means reflecting. What have we done? What are we still to do? What legacy are we leaving today? These are questions all churches must ask.
Over the coming week, consider these questions:
- Do we do our ministry with little organization to guide it?
- How long has it been since there has been a full time pastor?
- Does our church mission appear to simply maintain what the church has?
- How well do the worship services match the congregation?
- When was the last new member added?
- Is our church open for more than Sunday morning worship?
- What is the main age group?
- Does the church have a good way of making decisions?
- How often do we talk about what the church did in the past rather than what is being done now?
- Are we actively inviting others to join us at church?
We have to be honest about our ministry, and we need a clear vision of what the church in this community is called to do. The Holy Spirit will provide the guidance. The lectionary this week explains how the Holy Spirit works:
- From Acts 2:1-21, the story of Pentecost is shared historically, but the Holy Spirit is God’s presence within us.
- In Psalm 104, we learn how God’s spirit created the word, but also sustains
- The message from Romans 8 explains that God’s Spirit mediates and maintains God’s presence even when things are broken.
- And the reading from the gospel of John “knits” together the words of Jesus and the testimony of his disciples from creation through eternity.
As we move into summer and look towards the next year in ministry together, we must evaluate what the legacy of the church is and what ministry we have to do. Use this week to review those questions and to read the lectionary. Next week we begin the conversation of what will be this church’s legacy or ministry.
Dear Father, Son and the Holy Spirit,
Over and over we learn how much you love us.
Today we learned as Jesus’ left, you sent the Holy Spirit.
Help us to recognize the Holy Spirit within us.
Help us rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
As we join in ministry, we know the Holy Spirit
will work through us to continue your work.
This holiday weekend, we acknowledge the legacy
of our churches and the generations before us.
Let us also begin to reflect on the future before us.
Guide us in decisions that will define the legacy
of this church in this community.
We thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit;
may we continue ministry in your name.