Yesterday I celebrated the 22nd anniversary of my ordination. My father-in-law celebrated his 50th. The Rt. Rev. Paul Graf celebrated his 55th. I did not deliberately pick June 28th to be held in such auspicious company. I’m not sure why June 28th. I’m sure The Rt. Rev. Stanley Thomas’s schedule played the larger role on my ordination date.
I remember the heat. Emmaus Moravian Church STILL does not have air conditioning. I remember the choir. Edgeboro and Emmaus put together a tremendous joint choir. They sounded great. I remember the train that rolled through town—almost on cue—during my remarks.
I also remember the great feeling of accomplishment and affirmation. Everyone should have a day when all the important people in their lives get together, sing some songs, say mostly nice things about you, and send you on your way…other than your funeral. We should really be alive for a day like that.
Since June 28th, 1998, I have used that day to reaffirm my vow and commitment. As with wedding anniversaries or first dates, we reaffirm our spousal relationships. As with our birthdays, we affirm our decision to live a little more.
Brother Paul celebrated his ‘day’ anniversary. Leave it to Hallmark to randomly generate themes for anniversaries (which they did: hallmark.com). Brother Denny celebrated his ‘golden’ anniversary. I celebrated my ‘water’ anniversary. Water. Sure…the waters of baptism. The waters of Little Silver Lake. The waters of Little Lake (one of the most aptly named lakes in all of Wisconsin). The waters of Green Bay/Lake Michigan which surround and embrace me…but water? I did shower yesterday; I suppose that satisfies the obligatory water gift.
Other important anniversary gift/theme traditions brought to us by Hallmark.
1st Anniversary: Paper
5th Anniversary: Wood
10th Anniversary: Tin or Aluminum
15th Anniversary: Crystal
25th Anniversary: Silver
What will we do to commemorate 2020 one year from now, ten years from now, twenty-five years from now? In 2025, Hallmark will unveil carved oak ventilator Christmas tree ornaments. Perhaps a crystal “COVID-19 Molecule” lapel pin in 2035. I should trademark these ideas. Hallmark will sell stuff. We will buy it.
I’d like us to consider not so much HOW we will commemorate the subsequent anniversaries of COVID-19, but WHAT will we commemorate. Will we look back at 2020 and see our failures, our betrayals, our selfishness? We will recognize this season as the beginning of our societal, cultural collapse? Will we look back at 2020 and recognize the virus made us better, stronger, more resilient, more patient, more empathetic, more compassionate? Will we recognize this season as the beginning of our societal, cultural resurrection?
Twenty-two years ago, I made a commitment before family, friends, church, and Christ to make a difference. The rite was a little more intricate, but in my heart, I made a choice to make a difference. I was affirmed in that choice by the same family, friends, church, and Christ. Yesterday, I made the same vow. Today, just to be sure, I made the same vow.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.