75 years ago last week, the U.S. formally entered battle in World War II when the Japanese attacked the naval installation at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. In all, 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 were injured. The U.S.S. Arizona, the “pride of the American fleet” suffered the greatest number of casualties and today, it rests in the harbor where it sank on that fateful Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941.
Dates fascinate us. We remember the day of our birth, though as we mature, some of us choose not to be so celebratory about it. Perfectly understandable. We memorialize the anniversary of a loved one’s passing, as we place flowers atop their grave markers and pray to their beloved memory. For me, it is hard to forget that both my Mom and Dad passed away at the 10 o’clock hour on the mornings of December 22, 1985 and June 16, 2007. I shall not forget, as my heart reminds me each day. This is as it should be, for I love them beyond telling.
What of those other dates, you know, the date of our baptism and confirmation? Can we recall those sacramental occasions? I admit, this is pretty unfair of me to ask such a question. Still, it provides us food for thought, does it not? Truth be told, if I didn’t look at my records, I’d not remember either. And this is my point exactly. We celebrate our birth and other such anniversaries. Yet, as people of God, sisters and brothers to one another through Christ, we forget those times when we committed ourselves to serve God in worship and in ministry and be part of the body of the Church, engaged and active in the life of the Church. These events, along with marriage and ordination (marriage anniversaries may be the exception as most do remember this event) are occasions for rejoicing. Sadly, we forget and said anniversaries pass by without any recall, remembrance or rejoicing.
We are well into the sacred season of Advent. Last weekend we lit the Rose Candle, celebrating Gaudete Sunday. Translated from the Latin, Gaudete means “rejoice,” and is taken from a verse in St. Paul’s letter to the people of Philippi, Greece, “Gaudete in Domino semper,” that is, “rejoice in the Lord always.” For this is what we do as a people of faith: we watch and we wait. We continue to prepare ourselves for the anniversary of Christ’s celebrated birth on the 25th of December. This is the day chosen long ago and it is cherished by millions of faithful followers of Christ Jesus, the Redeemer. Yet and more importantly, let us continue to remind ourselves Advent calls us to prepare for the Lord’s return to our world, to once and for all bring us to eternal glory. As we wait, let us also remember to celebrate the anniversary of our ‘new birth in Christ,’ that is, our baptismal and confirmation anniversaries. It is in these sacramental exercises that we became part of this family we call Christian and members of this church we celebrate and honor as St. Nicholas Episcopal.
Incidentally, I was baptized on the 5th of October, 1958 and made my Confirmation on the 23rd of November, 1971 at Detroit Holy Redeemer. Anyone else wish to share their dates with us? After all…all are welcome…