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When we gather, let it be with a renewed purpose

Memorial Day and Memorial Day weekend would seem to go hand in hand, yet they are two different events.

Memorial Day is a day set aside for honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. It’s a somber day. It’s a time of remembrance, of giving thanks, of recognition, of reflection, of acknowledging sacrifice.

Memorial Day weekend is a three-day event that commemorates and celebrates the opening of pools and when you can find sales at the local department stores. It’s a time of reflection on the refrigerator you’ve been needing to get and now is on sale. It’s the time to observe the cost of that car sitting at the dealership that is part of the Memorial Day blockbuster savings. It’s a time for parties and cookouts and social gatherings.

It reminds me of how sometimes we get so caught up in the celebration, the party and the programs, events and socials of the church that we sometimes lose sight of the basic reason we have a church building to come to. In the past two months I have seen the difference.

No fellowship meals, no Senior Fun Day during the week, no Sunday School classes, and no choir. No business meetings and no fundraisers. All of the lights, camera and action have been gone and all that is left is an empty building.

Makes you stop and think for a moment about priorities. Right now, many people are anxiously awaiting (or maybe they have returned by this point), to rush the doors of their church at 11 a.m. (or whatever time) the first Sunday the doors are open. They have been away so long, that suddenly it doesn’t matter if we have a fish fry, a Sunday luncheon, any fun days, or any meetings. They just want to get back together.

Much like stripping away all of the activities and sales and events of Memorial Day weekend and simply stopping on Memorial Day to reflect on the sacrifices made on behalf of our country, the church has been given the same opportunity.

For those who return, and within a few months start complaining there is not enough to do, not enough programs, not enough parties and activities and events, I hope they will remember how appreciative they were just to walk into worship one Sunday after such a long absence. Church is not about the party and the programs, it’s about the fellowship of believers and the worship of God. It’s about following Christ and sharing Christ.

A reminder found in Hebrews 10:24-25. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching.

Let us gather together once again with renewed purpose, hope and thankfulness.

REV. BARRY VASSAR can be reached at fitzgeraldmemorial@gmail.com.