Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Flag or Cross

When we walked into our weekly accountability group on a Wednesday before some big secular holiday like 4th of July, Mother's Day, Veterans Day, or Memorial Day, we could count on Ron, my friend and local Episcopal rector in Vidalia to ask the question,  "Ya'll going to preach the secular holiday or the lectionary gospel lesson for this Sunday?"   Those of us who had decided go the secular holiday route instead of the gospel would find ourselves squirming with what seemed to be a compromise before we even sat down. 

For the preacher there is some tension in the question.  It is always hard not to extol the Mothers on Mother's Day, or those who have sacrificed their lives for freedom on Memorial Day because such is what is expected of the preacher on such Sundays.  I always remember one irate parishioner who came  by the door at the end of the service and said, "That was the worst sermon I have ever heard.  I came here today for you to honor our mothers and you totally messed up!"  What raises the memory and the issue is the coming together of Memorial Day weekend and Pentecost Sunday.  What is going to take precedence?   Do I extol the sacrifice of soldiers or preach about Pentecost?

Now, please understand, I am patriotic and understand the supreme sacrifice made by so many.  I do not take it lightly.  My own father was in the Air Force when his plane collided with another during a peace time training exercise.  I understand the risk.  I understand the loss.  But, still there can be only one object of our worship.  Sometimes with flag and cross both present, folks get confused.  This Sunday I will remember families who have suffered loss in prayers, but I will be preaching Pentecost. 

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