I confess to being one of many who see Memorial Day as the official start of summer, and a chance for a much needed three-day week-end during the final week of the academic year. I often find myself squirming in the pew during church services that fall on or “celebrate” national holidays. Patriotism and Christian faith are not holy alliances, nor is Memorial Day or the Fourth of July part of the church’s liturgical calendar. We can be grateful for these days for many reasons, but to celebrate them as part of a worldwide ecclesial community? I don’t think so.
The Scriptures, however, do call us to remember. We are to remember that the people of God were once slaves in Egypt. We are to remember that it is God who rescues, redeems, and reconciles. We are to remember the poor, oppressed, widows, orphans and foreigners. We are to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. We are to remember to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. We are to remember what the Lord our God has done for us. One of the central, binding practices of Christian faith is Communion, the time we remember with Christians throughout the ages and around the world that “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.”
This Memorial Day is especially significant for me. It was two years ago on May 28,2010, that my Dad, William E. Corbin, passed away after a dire cancer diagnosis. He was “gone” two months later. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t remember my Dad. I remember his voice, his smile and laugh, his hands, his well-worn moccasins, his daily routines, and his wonderful casualness around everyone. I remember the impact he continues to have on my life, from being my father since my birth until the time of his death, there at every boring band concert, sporting event, piano recital, and family vacation. I remember his compassion and kindness, his willingness to see things from others’ points of view, his advocacy for women in the workplace, and his love of the craziness and richness of our extended clan. I hope I embody these things as a way to memorialize the impact he had on my life and the lives of others. I am grateful to be his daughter. And as I remember my Dad on this Memorial Day, I remember and say with a renewed, profound longing: “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.”