Attention Parents with Graduates – If someone in your family is graduating this spring from high school, college, or a technical/trade school and you would like them to be included in the Prayers of the People on Sunday, June 5th, please give us their name(s), and the name of the school from which they are graduating.  Deadline for this submission is Tuesday, May 31st.

Rogation Sunday – May 29th – Although Rogation Days are considered to be agricultural celebrations, they are not solely for rural congregations. These days underscore the dependence of all people, urban and rural, on the fruitfulness of the earth and human labor.  This Sunday we will bless soil, seed and water as we continue to give thanks to God for the benefits of creation.

Memorial Day Recognition – May 29thTrying to combine together Rogation and Memorial Days and be true to each is not an easy task.  On the one hand, Rogation is about life and living while Memorial Day is about remembering those who gave their lives in the service of their country and those who served in the military but have since died.  Living and dying.  In some ways complicated and in some ways connected.  It’s a leap, I admit.  However, in our burial service we say, “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God (name), and we commit his/her body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

I’ve always wondered about the poppies we are offered to purchase as we enter some stores or other locations. When I read the idea came as an inspiration from the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae, I had to find that poem!

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
between the crosses , now on row,
that mark our place; and in the sky
the larks, still bravely singing, fly
scarce heard amid the guns below.
 
 
 
We are the Dead.  Short days ago
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
loved and were loved,
and now we lie
in Flanders fields.
 
 
 
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
to you from falling hands we throw
the torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
 

Inspired by that poem Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red

that grows on fields where valor led.

It seems to signal to the skies

that blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.  Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies.  Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

Since the late 50’s on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye’s Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.

Last week I wrote: The Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years.  Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected.  Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day.  I began to think “what is the proper flag etiquette for Memorial Day?”  I hadn’t a clue.   We always put out little flags on sticks in our yard and flower pots. We hang a flag from a pole but it isn’t a real flag pole where you raise and lower the flag. Here is what I discovered:. The American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon on Monday. It should then be raised to the top of the staff.  If you raise your flag Monday morning (as opposed to having an illuminated all-weather flag you leave out all night), you need to raise it to the top of the staff and then lower it to half-staff from there.

During both World Wars, women of St. John’s knitted and sewed clothing and bandages. The columbarium holds the ashes of many veterans. It is appropriate that we continue the practice of remembering those who have served and honor those who are currently serving.

Keep coming to church! The temptation is to take a break from church as holidays and good weather begs us to sleep in, mow the lawn, work in the garden, go to the lake or enjoy some other outdoor activity. Tempting? Yes!  But don’t get out of the habit of attending services.  Your new rector will be here in just a few weeks and having the pews full will encourage and delight him.

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