Today is Memorial Day and we remember all those who served our country to insure “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Traditionally we do this with parades, placing of flowers on graves, and various patriotic rituals. And this is an honorable practice.
I would like to suggest several ways to deepen this remembering. The Greek philosopher Plato developed a concept called “anamnesis” which believed that the human soul through reflection and contemplation “recalls” what it already knows on a deeper level. Put simply, it’s that moment when we don’t rush to judgement and think carefully and we can say “Oh, I knew that….” It’s that “Ah-ha” intuition when we realize what is true and can echo Jesus “the truth will set you free”. This truth is more than just intellectual knowledge, however, and once again Jesus adds his wisdom in his Last Supper when he instructs his followers to share his body and blood “for the remembrance of me”. Not simply a memorial meal, this deep remembering takes on physical form each time it is celebrated and the Risen Christ becomes present to nourish his disciples for the sake of the world. His scattered people come together and like the physical “members” of the body, are re-membered. ELCA Lutherans proclaim it this way, “God’s work, our hands”. We confess that this remembering includes the mystical “communion of saints” which gathers a vast “cloud of witnesses” throughout history whose lives bear witness to God’s vision of peace and justice for the world.
So today as I remember the sacrifices of American service men and women, I also remember and am inspired by Pope Francis, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Elie Wiesel, Mother Theresa, and Daniel Berrigan.
Who do you remember?