A number of years ago, I was asked to substitute as a “lay minister” at our church in Melvin Village, N.H. It was the week after Christmas and our pastor was receiving a well-deserved weekend off. My message, not really a sermon, dealt with the danger of packing away the Christmas spirit of love, joy, and hope along with the decorations that are relegated to the attic or basement for most of the year. That spirit is not intended to be seasonal.

This morning, I began thinking about the upcoming fifth anniversary of the murder of Stacey Burns. It is an anniversary sure to rekindle the grief, the sadness and the horror of her passing. There will be memorial services, charitable events held in her honor, and a general revisiting of that awful time for so many people.

Here is my point: We often bring out the Christmas spirit eagerly around Thanksgiving, only to just as eagerly pack it away as soon as the holiday is over. I sincerely hope that is not the case with the spirit of Stacey Burns. Until there is an arrest and conviction of her murderer, the intensity of feeling that this fifth anniversary will engender really needs to be sustained. It will be a profound and deep loss if the raw feelings that rise to the surface on May 10 are not still there on May 15 or June 10 or September 30. How truly sad if next May, we are looking at a sixth anniversary without a conclusion.