ON THE JOURNEY

MELODY IRBY, PASTOR OF WORSHIP

With other holidays, it is natural to say Merry Christmas . . . Happy Thanksgiving . . . "Have a happy . . . (fill in the blank with the holiday of your choice).”


My family joked with my mom this past Mother’s Day and wished her a Happy “Mother’s-Thanksgiving-mas” because in her awesome frugalness and stewardship of our environment, she likes to use up the leftover holiday paper goods, so every plate and cup celebrates a different holiday from the year.  It is an ongoing chuckle in our extended family gatherings to see what combination of holiday plates will dictate the salutation for the day!

 

Memorial Day is different. 

 

We feel an uncomfortable jolt when the accidental words fall out of our mouths—“Happy Memorial . . .”

 

It is as if our innermost being aches, and our hearts will not allow us to complete the sentence.

 

We are reminded that it is a holiday specifically set aside for remembering the ultimate sacrifice of others.  There is a reverence that is demanded from these lives that were cut short and for the families that have been impacted by that sacrifice.

 

In this past Friday Night Live broadcast, I shared a song that always bubbles up in my spirit on Memorial Day.  Here is some of the history and the lyrics of that song:

 

“In 1961, an unknown Oakland woman named Elma Dean was suddenly thrust into world recognition with a poem she had written during World War II, honoring the fallen soldiers.  ‘Letter to St. Peter’ has been transcribed on an American cemetery wall in England, recited by a U.S. Senator at another European cemetery, posted in National Geographic and found in the Congressional Record.

 

Appearing in the Oakland Tribune on December 17, 1961, is the following excerpt: ‘It was the summer of 1942, and things were not going well for us in the war,’ said Elma Dean in her quiet voice, ‘and so many of our sons, some of my friend's sons, were being killed.  I was going around with tears in my eyes.’  She shared her tears with the tears of mothers across the country when she wrote the poem, ‘Letter to St. Peter’ in November 1942.

 

‘Letter to St. Peter’ made its way to songwriter, John Gorka, who adapted it to a song he called, ‘Let Them In,’ which has since been recorded by a number of performing artists.’”

 

Here are the lyrics and a link to the song “Let Them In” performed by David Wilcox. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4odzRETc3VA

 

Let them in, Peter, they are very tired

Give them couches where the angels sleep, and light those fires

Let them wake whole again, to brand new dawns

Fired by the sun, not wartime's bloody guns

May their peace be deep, remember where the broken bodies lie

God knows how young they were to have to die

God knows how young they were to have to die

 

So, give them things they like, let them make some noise

Give dance hall bands not golden harps to these our boys

And let them love, Peter, for they've had no time

They should have trees and bird songs and hills to climb

The taste of summer in a ripened pear

And girls sweet as meadow wind, with flowing hair

And tell them how they are missed, but say not to fear

It's gonna be all right, with us down here

 

Our God is a God of sacrifice, and He understands our grief.  Here is a link to the GriefShare website that explains this so well:

https://www.griefshare.org/healing/god

 

Journey’s GriefShare group is an excellent community for healing, and I urge anyone who needs encouragement to connect with this wonderful community.

 

May God bless you all this Memorial Day as we reflect on the ultimate sacrifice of others and of our Lord Jesus.

 

-Melody