Memorial Day and Pentecost: Remembering and Re-membering

May 22nd, 2015 by Carl Buffington

Porch furnitureDear Friends,

First, we carried the remainder of the cord back to its stack in the woods. Then the floor was to be swept, as were the screens. The porch was now ready for the summer furniture to be brought from the garage rafters and basement.

As if there were marks on the concrete floor, each piece had its place and was positioned precisely. Last to be put in its place, next to the brick chimney, was the hibachi. Soon we would be grilling again. Summer was officially here.

So went our Memorial Day ritual at my childhood home. And as you might guess, our Labor Day was undoing Memorial Day. Like book ends on our summers growing up in the northeast.

My sister, Patti, and her husband, Paul, are visiting this weekend from CT. Abby and Levi like to ask us about childhood memories. While most are misty at best, this one is quite vivid and is a fond one. Maybe because it was a guy thing? Something I got to do with my father.

This year Pentecost Vietnam Memorialfalls on Memorial Day weekend. The one has to do with remembering those who have died and made the ultimate sacrifice for those of us who live on. The other has to do with life, abundant and eternal. And in a sense, it has to do with remembering. Or better put -- re-membering life.

On Pentecost, Jesus sent to us, poured out on us, the Holy Spirit. As the Creed states, he is “the giver of life.” And in his presence we have life. Jesus said that when two or three are gathered in his name, he is there too. When members come together, he is present. Jesus also said of his body and blood that unless you eat and drink of this you will not have life in you.

There’s a part in the Eucharistic prayer we call the Anamnesis [See Note 1]. The “do this in remembrance of me” for the bread and the wine part. At that moment we believe the remembering is more of re-membering, putting the past into the present, than a reflecting back into the past. It’s a re-membering, the members coming together, of the body of Christ in the present.

That’s one place to look for the presence on any given Sunday morning, in the Eucharistic prayer in communion – in the sacramental stream.

Another place to find the Holy Spirit is in the time of praise and worship – the spiritual stream. God does inhabit the praises of his people, and according to Psalm 104 it is what we have vowed to do, sing praises.

You can also listen for God’s word to you in the Word of God. Oddly enough, he does like to communicate with his people via his Spirit and his Word– the scriptural stream.

I have attached 3 things: the scriptures which the lectionary suggests for Pentecost Sunday (Pentecost script booklet); some notes from the liturgy (Collect of purity); and some notes on where I saw the Holy Spirit in the scriptures (Pentecost notes).

Look at them. Perhaps you may see it as the sweeping and preparing part of this special day.

Come Sunday looking for the Holy Spirit! It would be a shame to miss his presence, any day, and especially on his day.

It is good news that Pentecost is not bordered with a beginning and an end, but only with a beginning. While it is important to remember those who have died, it is critical to our soul’s destiny to re-member life.



-PS Join us Sunday at 9:00 am in the parish hall to continue the discussion.


[Note 1] In a wider sense, Anamnesis is a key concept in the liturgical theology: in worship the faithful recall God's saving deeds.[1] This memorial aspect is not simply a passive process but one by which the Christian can actually enter into the Paschal mystery.[2]


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About this author:

Carl Buffington

Carl Buffington

Carl Buffington is a bishop in Anglican Mission International (AMI). He has been in ministry for over forty years. He lives in Florida with his wife Barb and their lively golden retriever, Sammy.

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