I sent the following e-mail to my folks yesterday, and share it for your edification.
As we were leaving yesterday, someone asked me why we didn’t make any note of Veteran’s Day in worship. Of course, I hit myself in the head over forgetting to recognize our veterans, for their service to our country has indeed been great. It was not an intentional slight, but rather an oversight that will be addressed as a part of our prayer time next Sunday.
I recently have finished watching “The War,” a documentary by Ken Burns which aired on PBS about World War II. This particular documentary was unique in that it told the story from the perspective of four American cities, recognizing the sacrifice that all Americans entered into as a part of that effort. Although I knew the history of the war, this documentary opened my eyes and heart in a new way to the sacrifice that those who fought in that war endured, and the numbers of those who gave their lives in those conflicts were staggering. Those (and many who have fought in wars since that time) were men and women who were willing to give themselves to something far bigger than themselves. Sometimes that was love of country. Very often, it was the love of those persons they were fighting beside that drove them to heroic efforts and the ultimate sacrifice. But in either case, they were led to think beyond themselves in the service of others.
While I hesitate to mix our love of country with our love of God, fearing that doing so mixes our priorities, I have to say that those who have been willing to give their lives for something beyond themselves are those who have some sense of God’s call in our lives. Our faith is one that asks us to take up our crosses for the needs of the world, being less concerned with our own selves and more concerned with the establishment of a new kingdom ruled by God, filled with love and grace. These persons give us a real example of what it means to live sacrificially for others, and their experience of that reality needs to be recognized and learned from.
What would bring me the most joy in our church is not to simply recognize those who have experienced this sacrificial call first hand, but to learn from them. With that in mind, I encourage you to be in conversation with those in our midst of have followed that call and offer us wisdom on the nature of sacrifice. Likewise, I call on those who have served to share as they are able with some of our younger folks, mentoring them and helping them to learn from your experience. I know that this brings up difficult memories for some and don’t want to dredge up more pain, but I also know that our young will never learn the lessons of war unless our elders share them with us.
Like Pam shared in the earlier message, I too celebrate the sacrifice of those who followed a call bigger than their own selves. And I pray that their sacrifice will be embraced by all who work together to make God’s kingdom real here on earth.
See you on Wednesday,