Mayday, Mayday. snort Sorry, couldn’t resist. Some of you “may” snort again I just can’t help myself, be out leaving May baskets at the homes of your friends and neighbors and running for cover so they don’t know who gifted them. Baskets filled with flowers and perhaps candy and other gifts symbolizing your joy at the changing of the seasons and most particularly the coming of Spring. Only once in my early years was I part of a May Day party with a May Pole that we all had colorful streamers attached to and danced around in the circle until all our streamers reached their end and had decorated the temporary pole. I’m certain we had absolutely no idea why we were doing it, but it made enough of an impression that I remember participating. I don’t know, does May Day still count when it’s cold and cloudy and feels like rain? Maybe that’s when the other mayday takes over. You know, the one that is used when vessels are in distress on the sea or in the air and help is needed as quickly as it can come? That mayday has no connection whatsoever with the May Day celebration of spring. Rather it was coined in 1923 by a Sr. radio officer in London who was asked to create an emergency call that would be easy to remember and use. He came up with mayday because it sounded like the French word, m’aider, which means “help me.” It was accepted officially in 1948. You’re welcome. The guy who is up to $1.4 million in winnings on Jeopardy may be the only other person who would know this piece of trivial information and now so do we!
I do like words a lot. And I particularly like words or phrases that can be used and construed in more than one way and pique both humour and intellect. May Day/mayday does that for me, particularly today. Sometimes a celebration and a call of distress can happen in the same moment in the same situation in the same person and we can know it but have a hard time describing it at the same time.
There are signs of spring all around us. Lydia, one of our building engineers, was out planting some of our left-over trumpeter lilies from Easter along the windows on the west side of our building yesterday. The thunder was rumbling, the rain had ceased for a few minutes, and there she was out planting radiant white Easter lilies against the backdrop of dark clouds, a threatening wind, and a “feel” in the air that seemed way more like the Good Friday rending of the curtain and flashing of lightning and quaking of the earth when Jesus yielded his Spirit, as opposed to the peaceful garden image of resurrection. Yet there she was, out there digging in the dirt with the biggest smile on her face while the pastor dashed from the car to the door in fear of the bolt of lightning coming from above for the irreverent spirit she sometimes has at the most inappropriate moments. Perhaps Lydia has good reason to celebrate May Day while the pastor has good reason to echo mayday.
The post-Easter resurrection promise is ringing around us as communities of faith. It was a grand Easter Sunday with sunshine and blue skies and a rather brisk western Kansas wind blowing warm across the parking lots sometimes carrying the hats that yet still appear on a few for the Easter celebration. Pews and chairs were full to overflowing, choruses of Christ the Lord Has Risen Today still sing in ear-worms for some of us, and the trumpets and French Horns and long-armed trombones balanced with oboes and clarinets and flutes surrounded by the vibrations of the timpani and organ reverberate through the now less-than-full sanctuaries still filled with festive spirit and life. And yet in the following days the United Methodist Judicial Council met and decided that, in fact, it IS constitutional to be exclusionary of welcome and support for the LGBTQIA+ community of brothers and sisters. So starting January 1, 2020, charges can be brought and trials had in the church for clergy officiating at same-gender weddings and allowing their churches to host such weddings; and against clergy who are in same-gender marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. BTW, that last one includes any two people of the same gender living in the same house whether they are in intimate relationship or not. Fear and paranoia much? Post-Easter resurrection enlivens and invites our spirits to celebrate the promise of new life that shows itself in the coming of the spring season, happy May Day!
AND the United Methodist Church in the post-Resurrection promise of life declares its brokenness to love and embrace all God’s children out of fear of difference and the need to polarize and divide – mayday…mayday!
Can I tell you something? I’m tired, just tired. Understand, I took Wednesday through Sunday away last week for a bit of renewal and rest and some time to let Easter settle into my own spirit, but I’m tired spiritually. Tired of a denomination that can’t find a way to love first, when we’ve been first loved by God. Tired of seeing anyone “other” as enemy to be separated and excluded by the church, rather than hearing and experiencing the call of Jesus to do unto the least of these, our brothers and sisters, as we would do unto him. I’m simply tired of us not getting it. It’s spring, the buds have turned to leaves and flowers, the lawn mowers and weed whackers and grills and the smells of burgers and ‘dogs and Denny Mathews calling another Royals game bear witness to the threshold of summer. And yet, no, we can’t agree to disagree, and no, we can’t welcome those we judge as “incompatible”, and no, you can’t share life with someone you love unless we’ve judged you in our own definition as “normal” because mowing your lawn and planting your flowers and spring cleaning your house and going to the grocery and grilling burgers and dogs while listening to Denny Mathews and the Royals should not be shared activities by people of the same gender if they’re living in the same house? Really?
May Day! May Day! Wahoo! AND, Mayday. Mayday. Sigh.
AND… We. Are. Grace.