"This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it…” Exodus 12:14
Anniversaries may be joyful celebrations. This year I celebrate 25 years of ministry in the Lutheran church first as a lay leader, then as a rostered minister in the diaconal tradition, a seminary student, and finally as a parish pastor. (Feb. 5 was the 10th anniversary of my ordination into Word and Sacrament ministry, a date which I forgot until I received a card from my seminary!) Work milestones, wedding anniversaries, and birthdays may be good times for those who observe them.
Anniversaries can be very painful. Later this year, my family and I will remember Linda Benson, my wife’s twin sister, who died 25 years ago. Though the children and I never got a chance to meet her, we talk about her often. We imagine what she would be like today and what kind of relationship she would have with her nieces and nephews. Anniversaries and other occasions can be hard. The anniversary of a miscarriage. The first Christmas without a letter from Grandpa. The first Thanksgiving with an empty seat at the table. The 500,000th COVID-related death in the U.S.
And, like so many other things in live, anniversaries can bring a mix of emotions. As we approach anniversaries related to the pandemic this month (the last day of in person school during the 2019-2020 year, for example), I find myself filled with mixed feelings. I remember how different life is today compared to the early days of March 2020… I am thankful that infection rates are dropping and older relatives and friends are getting vaccinated. I am glad we have been able to resume worship and places like the library are re-opening doors. I look forward to warmer weather, the easement of restrictions, and not having to check the “color map” every Thursday.
I pray that whatever else this past year has given us, it has given us another year of together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Like the rings seen inside a tree trunk that mark each year, may the anniversaries we observe signify another year of growth in God’s love.
Pastor Tom Pairan
P.S. It’s not too late to join our “Bite Size Bible Study” for Lent. Each lesson is complete in one session, so you can join any time. New lessons are sent on Wednesdays. Complete at your own pace. Contact me to sign up!