WORSHIP WITH US!
8:30AM, 9:45AM in the hall, or 11AM

Location:
7150 Pines Blvd
Pembroke Pines, FL 33024
The SE corner of Pines Blvd and 72nd Ave
Across the street from Broward college South Campus lake
(954) 989-1903
tlcppines@gmail.com


Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Featured Post

Advent Meditation on Joseph

The reading for Sunday, December 17, 2017: Matthew 1:18-25 This Sunday we read about an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. We've no...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

VETERANS DAY 2010 SERMON


O sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gotten him victory.
The LORD has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.

We gather today as we gather each and every Sunday: In the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has promised to meet us here whenever we, as a community of faith, gather together in his name. This past week the nation celebrated Veteran’s Day and we gather this morning not as an extension of that national holiday, but to bring to bear on an occasion such as this what the Holy Spirit through the proclaimed Word of God may offer, may say with the thoughts and reflections of this national event firmly alive in our present context.

Imagine that the same Bible that compels pacifists to stand their ground against the violence of war, also feeds those who argue for the existence of the “just war” in which the devastation that such violence brings is seen as the lesser of two evils in which to not fight leads to far worse suffering and injustice. Still others see in the scriptures a ongoing call to fight against various enemies such as those who used such texts to justify the crusades so long ago and others have throughout the ages to justify other military actions.

O sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gotten him victory.
The LORD has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.

Standing at the top of Bloody Nose Ridge I looked down into “the pocket” a small valley that US Marines and later army troops had clawed over inch by inch in order to secure the small Japanese held island of Peleliu during WWII. Most people have never heard of Peleliu, or of Bloody Nose Ridge, but it was by most historians the most vicious battle of World War II. Its planners had predicted that it would take four days to re-capture the island, but it ended up taking two months. Considering the number of men involved, Peleliu had the highest casualty rate of any battle in the Pacific War. The National Museum of the Marine Corps called it "the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines".

Before it was over the First Marine Division suffered the loss of 1/3rd of its men, thousands of people, with some units taking 90% casualties. Japanese loses on the island numbered some 12,000. During my visit as part of my navy work for the 50th Anniversary of World War II Commemoration Committee, I got to use a staircase to get to the top of the ridge; they had to fight inch by inch. Rusty tanks, old gas masks and canteens, and hidden gun emplacements still littered the ridge. I shivered at the thought of fighting day and night in order to plant a flag on this small piece of old volcanic rock that someone had thought important enough to bleed out so many thousands of lives.

In 2007, I served as chaplain at the 20th reunion of my graduating class at the United States Naval Academy. There in the front row of folding chairs set up in Memorial Hall, a vast room that honors those graduates who have paid the ultimate price in defense of our country, sat the families and loved ones of some of our classmates who had paid that price: moms and dads, wives and children, and more. I remember pacing the floor for an hour before the event asking God to give me the words to comfort them in their loss.

Then just a couple of years ago, Trinity hosted a funeral for a young soldier, the fiance of a young women who had grown up in this congregation. He died during his first week in Iraq, the same week as his 21st birthday. A kid honored and remembered by the hundreds of people who filled these very pews.

At every funeral, at every memorial service at every moment of remembrance of loved ones who have died in defense of this nation and its ideals, the words of Saint Paul refuse to let us go: “What then shall we say to this?”

The Bishop of the ELCA, Mark Hanson once shared: “Paul reminds the Romans and modern-day Christians that governing authorities are God's servants. They do God's work of preserving life, establishing order and providing safety. In Romans 13:7, he writes, "Pay to all what is due them ... respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due." In the following verse, Paul writes, "Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." The clear connection is that respecting and honoring those who are God's servants in the public arena is a prime instance of the command to love their neighbor.

We honor God when we honor God's servants in public life, especially those who make the greatest sacrifices for the common good in their daily vocations. We reflect confident trust in God when we respect those who serve, even while we freely engage in debate and dissent with public policy.”

The Bishop reminds us all that we must and should honor our soldiers as I am sure many of us did on Veteran’s Day and will yet again through prayer this day. Yet, we must at the same time acknowledge that as Lutherans it is important that we take the time to reflect on how our faith interacts with the tension the biblical witness suggests exists between war and peace. To fail to participate in the national dialogue on this subject is to lose an opportunity to bear witness of this gift that we Lutherans bring to the table to those who send our daughters and sons off to war.

As the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America we have adopted a statement about peace and the conflict that threatens it. It notes that as Christians we face conflicting moral claims and agonizing dilemmas on this subject. Helping the neighbor in need may require protecting innocent people from injustice and aggression. While we as Lutherans support the use of nonviolent measures, there may be no other way to offer protection in some circumstances than by restraining forcibly those harming the innocent. We do not, then - for the sake of the neighbor - rule out possible support for the use of military force. We must determine in particular circumstances whether or not military action is the lesser evil.

As Lutherans we seek guidance from the principles of the "just/unjust war" tradition. While permitting recourse to war in exceptional circumstances, these principles intend to limit such occasions by setting forth conditions that must be met to render military action justifiable. We begin with a strong presumption against all war; support for and participation in a war to restore peace is a tragic concession to a sinful world. Any decision for war must be a mournful one.

The principles of the "just/unjust war" tradition incorporate the hope that even war may be subject to political ends (peace) and moral considerations. At their best, these principles provide a moral framework, ambiguous and imprecise though it be, for public deliberation about war, and guidance for persons deciding what to do when faced with the dilemmas of war. In using them, Christians need to be prepared to say "no" to wars in which their nation participates.

O sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gotten him victory.
The LORD has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.

We are humbly reminded that the ultimate victory has already been won by God in and through Christ Jesus. In that victory we find our comfort as we pray for our young men and women who are sent off to war. In that victory we find our comfort as we pray for their families and loved ones. In that victory, we may reluctantly and carefully support military actions and wars that seek to protect life and repel injustice and suffering. In that victory we may also stand with those who find the cause for a particular war or action wanting and unjust and in faith say “no.” It is that victory and that victory alone in which our very lives find their one true hope, their one true freedom, and their one true promised future.

O sing to the LORD a new song,

for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gotten him victory.
The LORD has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.
Amen.

No comments: