My church often closes out worship service with, “We’re done being the church in here; now go be the church out there.” It’s become my new favorite benediction. Benediction, as defined by Miriam Webster, is “the invocation of a blessing or a short blessing with which public worship is concluded.” It’s funny to me that what has been said for centuries as a conclusion and blessing over the people in the worship service is now being said more as a charge, a calling. We are blessed already because we were there, now how can we be a blessing outside these four walls?
Honestly, it reminds me a little of John F. Kennedy’s famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country.” What can we do?
Community. We can do community. We have the capacity to open ourselves up to other people and invite them into our hearts and our homes.
Today, on this Memorial Day, this message hits home even more. I am part of the community for which this holiday exists. My husband has been to war. Many of my friends have been to war. I am extraordinarily grateful that my husband and my friends have all returned. But I am acutely aware that many of my friends’ friends have not.
In my youth I celebrated Memorial Day, like many Americans: on a beach, with my friends, grilling out, and partying. As a military spouse I have often rung in this day at a patriotic event. Most of my life I’ve spent this day in celebration, almost as a mini 4th of July. A day to be grateful for the freedoms I have because of the people willing to risk life and limb to ensure I have those freedoms.
But that is not the heart of today. The heart of today is remembrance. Remembrance is hard for me to sit in, because it makes death feel really close. And if I’m honest, I don’t want death, especially military death, really close because, what if it rubs off on my family?
Death is not some plague to run from. It is the call to turn toward. Community.
I have the capacity to open myself up to other people and invite them into my heart and my home, to cross that fine line of tension between fear and love.
This morning I sent a friend Happy Birthday wishes. She responded:
Ohh love you friend! Thank you! Hope your day is good and you can love on someone that is missing their loved ones!
“Love on someone that is missing their loved ones.” Community.
In one short thank you message my friend reminded me what today is about, remembering the heroes AND coming alongside those for whom today is far from celebratory.
Be the church out there. Come alongside those in mourning. Remember. Cross the line between fear and love. This is what I can do for my country.