Faith Matters: In remembrance

  • Rev. Marguerite Sheehan at the Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Rev. Marguerite Sheehan with a portrait of her father, John P. Sheehan Jr., at Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Pastor, Trinity Church
Published: 5/29/2022 12:18:18 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email

I am writing this column a couple of weeks before you read it. In the busyness of spring, I want to be sure it is a meditation that, as the psalmist says, will be “acceptable in your sight.”

I know that this column is being printed on Memorial Day weekend when many of us will, in one fashion or another, be remembering those who have fought and died in wars, from the Civil War onward. My father was one of those soldiers. He hesitated to talk about his wartime experiences, but we knew that he was shaped in part by them. He brought to marriage and fatherhood a shadow of the losses of war. He also brought his faith in the God of peace, eternal life and forgiveness.

This spring, I officiated two memorial services. One was for a young man (at least young by my standards!). The other was for a mother and grandmother. Neither of these individuals were veterans of war. Yet both of them are on my mind this weekend. Like my dad, I trust in the God of peace, eternal life and forgiveness. I also bring my faith that centers on the life, the death and the memory of Jesus, who taught his followers to “do this in memory of me.”

Not for the sake of sentiment or backwards living, but for the sake of love.

This weekend I join you in remembering those who died fighting in wars. And I am meditating now about Jesus, who was killed by an empire bent on trouncing freedom and truth. This same Jesus lived his one precious life on earth teaching us the Way of Love and the grace of remembering.

From what we know about his last days before being betrayed and arrested, Jesus gathered up his friends and at least one enemy for a meal that they would always remember. Before the meal was served, he knelt in front of each one of them and he slowly washed their stinky, bruised and worn out feet. So they would remember him. Not as an overlord or a Son of God, but as a dear friend who served the world, one dusty foot at a time.

He said to them, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” Remember this commandment. Do as I do. Do not forget that this is why you are here. To love as I have loved you. No more. No less. Remember this.

Then, as they were sitting in shock and wonder about what this kind of love really meant, he sat with them and they ate a good meal. Some people say this was a Passover meal. He closed the meal with a final blessing on the rest of the bread and wine and on them, saying, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Remember the One and the ones who serve in the Way of Peace. Remember the One and the ones who live in this one precious moment, fully present and yet also looking back and forward, as far as our eyes and our memories and hopes take us. So that love can have a chance to go deep and spread wide. So that peace can have a chance to take root in a world fraught with violence and war.

As I write these words, I am remembering my dad and the young man and the older woman and all who loved and still love them. I am grateful that my teacher walked humbly on this earth and taught me to remember the joyful and the sorrowful things of life. Not to dwell only in the past, but to bring love into the world. One dusty foot at a time. Do this in remembrance.


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