Monday, May 30, 2011
Memorial Day 2011
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ They answered, ‘John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered, ‘The Messiah of God.’
He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’
Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.’Luke 9:18-27
We went out to the cemetery today where my Dad is buried. He was a Navy Chaplain with the rank of Commander and served during the Second World War, Korea and Vietnam. He was a reservist by the time I was conscious of it, but we spent time with him during Vietnam while on active duty. The times were tense and many young men went off to never return or return bent and broken in body and spirit. My father had several young men in his care, who worked as his assistants, many of whom had been drafted and were adrift and anxious. I remember a few of them. And I am pretty sure my Dad was firm with them but tender, willing to give up his life for these men, willing to plead their case before the ranking chaplain, even if it meant trouble. As we stood at his grave in prayer, I could think of no higher praise than his willingness to offer himself for the life of others. I can think of no higher praise for all those selfless young men and women who are willing to do likewise for people they don't even know across this nation.
Jesus talked to his disciples about sacrifice, and their willingness to serve others and offer up their lives for others. In God way of running things, those who offer themselves are most prized, most honored, not those who acquire fame fortune and wealth. So often society, then and know, measures greatness by what we have. God measures it by what we are willing to give.
Today, I ask God to help me offer everything I have and all that I am for the welfare of all people, and for this world. May the joys and freedoms we celebrate today be tempered by our willingness to sacrifice for others, friends and strangers alike.