Giving All

For many years I evaded and avoided Veterans Day events. After hearing a speech by a veteran about honor and service to country, all the veterans present would be asked to stand, often by branch of service, so that those who did not serve might thank them. 

US Flag reflecting among names on the Vietnam Memorial WallThese events often make me feel that my service as Navy officer on a US Navy submarine was minimal when compared to that of the speaker or of those referenced during the ceremony and not worthy of the accolades. But now on Veterans Day, or the closest Sunday, I put it on my dress blue uniform not so others might thank me, but as a way of honoring those serving this day and those who are eternally on patrol.

Lately I have begun to wonder if the feeling “I could never do that” is exactly what event organizers intend. For that feeling allows non-veterans to justify their not serving and to place veterans who have risked their very lives for our freedoms on a pedestal where we may safely laud them from afar.

This Sunday’s reading, Mark 12:38-44, provides two pedestal examples:  one that we would quickly say “I would not do that” and one we would say “I could never do that.” In the second story a widow gives all that she has, her last two pennies, to the church treasury. If challenged, would you give everything you own and all of your savings to a system that would demand such of a poor widow while simultaneously lauding wealthy scribes? I suspect you would be looking to make a fast exit.

But what if we take the widow off of her pedestal, and the wealthy scribe off of his petard? Might we find a more appropriate method of honoring the service of men and women in uniform?

I will have more to say about Mark 12:38-44 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church at 8:15 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 11th.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

A Tip for Parents

Rembrance PoppiesAlthough wearing poppies is typically associated with military people who died during a war, this congregation has distributed poppies on Veterans Day as a way of honoring the great price paid so that we might freely gather to worship the one who has paid the greatest price for our salvation.

God paid a great price for you.
So don’t become slaves of anyone else.
— 1 Corinthians 7:23 (CEV)