St. John’s Baptist Church

Worship | Sundays @ 10:30am

Days Between Pentecost & Memorial Day

Less than two years after I arrived in Charlotte, my father passed on ahead of us. The reason I use my middle initial is to honor him. Wayne Luther Foust was a fine man and a faithful example of pastoral ministry while being a husband and dad. I wish you could have known him, and he could have known you. By the time we moved here in 2011, his heart was too weak to travel. I still miss him every day. His body is buried in the National Veteran’s Cemetery in Bloomfield, Missouri; site of the publication, Stars & Stripes, a newspaper which began when Union soldiers started publishing news of the war. The paper continues to be published today. Since Dad was a linotype operator in the 1950s, and a pastor who became an editor, writer, and publisher, this seems to be a good burial spot.

Every year, on Memorial Day, we give attention to the families of those who have lost their lives while in service of their country – whether during peace time or war. I have known and cared for some of these families through the decades. Each year, I think of the Burns, the Wilhoits, the Thurmans, the Troutmans, the Winslows, and others. Yet, we have also expanded Memorial Day a bit to remember people with whom we have been close; especially those who left a mark on our lives. Hopefully, somewhere amidst the opening of swimming pools, ending of school years, trips to the beach or mountains, and family cookouts at the lake, you can reflect on how those who have passed on ahead of us are still influencing us.

Since I began my service as your senior minister in August of 2011, we have experienced more than two-hundred deaths. And this does not count those relatives and friends you have grieved who were not or are no longer members of St. John’s. We grieve together a bit too often if you ask me. At times, we do not have time to process our grief before we are grieving the loss of another friend or relative. Grief can saturate us and ooze out in odd ways.

Memorial Day is always the last Monday in May. Sometimes it bumps up against Pentecost. Every three to four years, Pentecost (the fiftieth day after Easter) falls on Memorial Day weekend, but it moves around. This year, Pentecost was observed eight days BEFORE Memorial Day. Next year, Pentecost is observed thirteen days AFTER Memorial Day. Since Pentecost precedes Memorial Day this year, I had a reflection that may offer an aha moment for you in these days between Pentecost and Memorial Day.

Pentecost reminds us how God’s Holy Spirit empowers our witness, emboldens us to continue God’s mission revealed in Jesus, provides us with strength, guides us in the path of discipleship, and assures us of God’s faithfulness.

On this Memorial Day, as I remember families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, I also remember all those veterans and their families who still struggle with injuries, memories, burdens, and guilt. To some extent, they lost their lives too. Their burdens are sometimes so heavy that estrangement becomes their lifestyle and homelessness their address. Let us pray on these days between Pentecost and Memorial Day that a fresh wind of God’s Spirit will blow on the lives of many who grieve allowing sorrows to be lifted on the wings of doves as God’s peace descends to lift the soul wounds which are often misunderstood.