Saturday, 23 July 2011
Decoration Days in North Middlesex
We celebrated Decoration Day at St. Mary’s Brinsley on June 26th. Decoration Day was something that I was completely unfamiliar with until I arrived at the Parish more than seven years ago (at my age, time does fly whether you are having fun or not but in this case I am). In any case I soon became acquainted with the tradition of Decoration Day. In fact it the Decoration Day service at St. Mary’s was one of the first services that I was involved in after my arrival June 1st 2004. There is also a Decoration Day at the Parkhill Cemetery which is celebrated on the second Sunday of July each year. As a community cemetery it is an ecumenical event in which the local clergy take turns presiding at.
All the cemeteries in this part of God's Kingdom seem to have a Decoration Day. I’m not sure how wide spread this is and whether it is celebrated in other parts of the country and beyond. There is no official Anglican liturgy that I am aware of which can be utilized for such a service so it is a case of reinventing or inventing the wheel. This is one time where Googling did not provide much help. There are Decoration Days celebrated in the U.S. but it seems to be predecessor of their Memorial Day – their equivalent of Remembrance Day. If any of you out there have more information I would be most interested in hearing more about the tradition.
I have found it to be a meaningful service in which the departed are remembered and honoured. In my experience the services are well attended at both locations by family members who have one or more generations buried in the cemetery. It is a time to give thanks for and remember those who have gone before us and who we owe a debt of gratitude. I will close with the prayer which we used at the end of the service:
Prayer for the faithful departed
Almighty God, with whom still live the spirits of those who die in the Lord, and with whom the souls of the faithful are in joy and felicity: We give you heartfelt thanks for the good examples of all your servants, who, having finished their course in faith, now find rest and refreshment. We remember this morning especially those who have their final resting place in St. Mary’s cemetery. We give thanks for their lives of faith and service as examples to us all who are still in our pilgrimage. May we, with all who have died in the true faith of you holy Name, have perfect fulfillment and bliss in your eternal and everlasting glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord