Friday, May 28, 2010

In remembrance of me…

I’m a proud veteran’s son. Dad was active duty during Vietnam, though his duty stations were stateside. All told, he served twelve years, mostly in the Navy. Military life was tough, he tells me, but he was glad to do it. There’s something profound about giving your talents, and possibly your life, for something bigger than yourself. Especially when it’s something you believe in, as Dad believed in the US Military.

I realize that last sentence elicits many responses. For some, Dad’s good feelings about the Military seem like conventional wisdom- so obviously true, it’s anger-inducing when others feel differently. Nevertheless, others feel differently, and while they may approve of the Military in the abstract, they find most military actions anger-inducing (except WWII, which most everyone seems to respect). Like many, I fall somewhere between those poles, though I do call Pops every Veteran’s Day to tell him I’m grateful for his service. And I’ll pray earnestly for fallen sailors and soldiers next Monday- Memorial Day. For regardless one’s persuasion about the role of the military in our society, that some have thought enough of our nation’s people to die for what they considered our benefit is worth honoring for that selflessness alone. I suspect others in other countries feel similarly.

Have you ever sung, “This Is My Song”? It’s #722 in our hymnal; here’s the first verse:

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true as mine.
I love those words (and the hymn’s pretty melody). “Home,” regardless where it is, is powerful, and often elicits strong loyalty in people. Thus, the anger mentioned above- whether directed toward our military, or toward military detractors- I believe it derives (usually!) from this love of ‘home,’ of “the country where my heart is.” People feel passionately about this topic because they want fellow Americans to honor their beloved home, what they feel are the nation’s best ideals, and they believe or desire that our war-fighting institutions support those ideals.

I love this hymn, though, for acknowledging we’re not alone in this world in feeling strongly about ‘home.’ For, as people of all persuasions recognize, there are many “other hearts in other lands…with hopes and dreams as true…as mine.” God is truly a “God of all the nations.” Hence, the sorrow many feel about war, wherever it happens. For regardless the reason for violence, in war the homes of God’s children get decimated, or destroyed. And I believe it’s saddest when that violence is perpetrated on innocent, vulnerable people.

Last Sunday, we welcomed a speaker from the MN Council of Churches to talk with us about refugees. She mentioned the ‘legal definition’ of a refugee, which is (paraphrase): A foreigner who fears s/he can’t go home because of threats of violence due to her/his religion, ethnicity, ideology, etc., and, in fact, s/he can’t. To someone like me, who loves his home, that notion is disturbing. I feel grateful for those who’ve fought (in war, and myriad other ways) to preserve “the country where my heart is,” and couldn’t imagine being kicked out. Apparently, I’m not alone. America resettles half of the world’s refugee resettlement cases. For whatever reason, it’s part of our society to welcome the “tired…poor…huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” (as it says on the Statue of Liberty). And unsurprisingly, churches often take the lead in this work. Churches like ours…

We had a great turnout last Sunday, so I’m hoping some will lead us to do more. You can tell I found the timing of that visit, in proximity to Memorial Day, meaningful, right? If this issue moves you, let me know. I have details/ideas for what we can do to assist families looking for a new home to love.

And regardless, may your Memorial Day weekend be fun (!), and filled with gratitude. For many gave much so we’d have much to give too.

Grace and Peace,

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