Monday, May 28, 2012


I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before your presence.
For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.
You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
their cities you rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.
But the LORD sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.
The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
Be gracious to me, O LORD!
See my affliction from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
that I may recount all your praises,
that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in your salvation.
The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah
The wicked shall return to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail;
let the nations be judged before you!
Put them in fear, O LORD!
Let the nations know that they are but men! Psalm 9

I grew up as a Navy Chaplain's kid, with a father who served in the Second World War, Korea and stateside during Vietnam. When I was young we spent several summers at Camp LeJuene, North Carolina during the height of the Vietnam conflict. Today, we will go out to the cemetery with my mother and plant flowers. He is buried in a local military cemetery with a standard simple Arlington headstone marking the site. He thought it the greatest honor to serve his country. He never owned guns as a civilian but was a patriot in the best of terms. His faith was deep and he lived his life to serve others, not for guts or glory, but with a self-deprecating sense that living for others was an honorable calling.

When I was young my parents taught me many Psalms and wanted me to learn them by heart. I often asked why this was and rarely got an answer I could hang on to. Then when I was twelve and sick, facing some painful surgery, I found myself reciting the same psalms as I lay waiting to be taken to the operating room. It was then a real answer came - in the experience. Jesus recited words of the psalms when facing grave danger. I imagine that many a soldier recited psalms and other verses as they faced the worst of conflicts and feared for their lives. God gives us words in our deepest sorrows, comfort in our times of terrible loss, strength in our weakness and courage when we flag and fail.

Today I ask that we honor all those who faced terrible dangers and horrors for the sake of others, who stood and fought despite their weariness and fears. May we be grateful to all those who have sacrificed so others can live free, and to their families who live with the loss and grief every day. May we be moved by others' strength to offer our lives in God's service, lives lived as an offering for the love and blessings we receive. May we thank God for their sacrifice by serving God with great joy.

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