Thoughts of a Country Preacher

The Monday morning ruminations of a pastor.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Value of Remembering

Veterans Day was last Saturday, and our worship service on Sunday reflected the holiday. As we started to gear up for our morning worship I looked over our bulletin – The Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I sat on our front pew as our Sunday School classes began and my heart sank. Clearly, someone thought it would be a good day to stand up and let God know how great our country really is.
As our honor guard came forward with Old Glory, cynical John emerged and I started to wonder whether or not we had gone too far – were we now bowing down to Caesar? Have we taken the purple sash from Christ and replaced it with the red, white and blue?

People had come to worship, and we were holding a political rally.

When our worship leader asked all of our veterans to come forward and be recognized, cynical John was about ready to explode. I glanced over to my wife, who is usually the cynical one in the family, expecting a grimace that made me look like a happy schoolboy. But instead her face was red from fighting back tears. I looked around the rest of the sanctuary and saw mostly similar expressions.
Then I stopped and listened to our veteran’s stories, and cynical John began to get his comeuppins. We had Infantrymen from World War 2, Sailors from Korea, Marines from Vietnam, and our newest veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. After hearing their stories cynical John was in full retreat, tail tucked firmly between his legs. These guys weren’t prideful about their service, they didn’t demand to be recognized, they weren’t fixated on the fact that they were veterans. They were just a group of guys who did what they had to do because Uncle Sam asked them to.

Did our worship service go to far in praising our country? Maybe - right now I really don’t know. But I can think of something worse than being too patriotic. And that is forgetting those people who put their lives on the line so that we could meet and worship God without harassment every single Sunday. It is right to stop and thank those men and women who expressed their love of neighbor by going to places I wouldn’t want to go, doing things that I wouldn’t want to do, and being shot at by people who really, really wanted to do them harm.
I guess that even cynical John can learn a lesson now and then.


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