Sunday, November 20, 2011
Marysville Ohio has a Veterans Day Memorial Program every year. This year I was privileged to be asked to offer an invocation and a benediction. This is what I wrote: Dear Friends and Fellows Citizens, I would like to begin with a word of thanks. I am truly honored to be here, to address you today. I am here on behalf of the clergy of our county and it is my privilege to offer an invocation; to call on the name of God and request that he bless our nation, its citizens, its leaders, those who serve and especially on this day, those who have served to defend her. On this Veteran’s Day, we ask God to offer his protection to our Nation’s Armed Forces even as they have risked themselves for our protection. May God be with them all. St Paul the Apostle, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote these words concerning those who govern us. He said, “They are God's servants for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:3-4 ESV) If we are to have rulers with the power to bear the sword then here must be a hand to hold that sword. A hand that is strong and ready to wield its power at the very moment it becomes necessary. And if there is to be such a hand, there must be soldiers, men and women trained and equipped to fight, who are prepared to operate the machines and the weapons of war so that those who do wrong might receive just recompense. Because here, in the exercise of justice, law abiding citizens are kept safe so that we can go about our lives and conduct our business without threat, both to our safety and our way of life. Therefore, on this Veterans Day we gladly honor the men and women who have served as the hand on the sword ready to pick it up and fight for us and our way of life when threatened by our enemies. I invite you to pray with me if you wish. O Lord, our Heavenly Father, You are a God who prefers justice over injustice, order over chaos, and peace over conflict. I pray on this day that you would ensure that our nation be a people committed to upholding justice, maintaining order and promoting peace both within our own land and throughout the world. Lord, I pray that you would curb all wickedness and sin among us. Bring justice where there is injustice. Bring order where there is upheaval; bring peace where there is conflict. Lord, I give you thanks that you have provided our nation with authorities to govern. May they be servants committed to the peace and general welfare of all people. Lord you have given to our authorities the power to maintain order. So that there may be peace and order you have provided the men and women of the Armed Forces. On this day I give special thanks to you for our veterans. I thank you for their willing service and their resolute dedication. May the citizens of our nation honor them for their service, respect them for their courage, and emulate them for their selflessness. Finally Lord, I ask your blessing on our proceedings this day. May our attitudes and actions reflect the honor that is due those who have served with honor, even as you have served us through their hands to provide for our protection and for all that we need to support this body and life. I pray this and all things in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Benediction I am privileged to serve as the pastor of St Paul Chuckery Lutheran church and School. St Paul is a congregation formed in the Lutheran tradition, borrowing its name from the 16th Century reformer, Dr Martin Luther. Martin Luther was a theology professor but he was also a pastor and it happened that one who was employed as a soldier came to Pastor Luther with a troubled conscience due to the often violent nature of his vocation. The work of a warrior,after all, involves fighting, and at times even killing. Pastor Luther wrote to this man a letter hoping to calm his conscience and allay his fears. In his letter of response, Dr Luther wrote to him that the office and work of a soldier is honored and instituted by God, that ultimately it is God's work and God's judgment executed in the world to punish those who do wrong and protect those who do right. Elsewhere Luther writes that peace and good government are gifts of God provided for us just as he provides for us our daily needs of food and clothing and a place to live. [SC LP 4th Petition] Clearly without the work and the service provided by our soldiers, both active and retired, our world would be much more dangerous and much less hospitable for honest work and good living. We owe our armed forces a great debt. Union County Ohio is a peaceful community. We have the freedom to assemble here together today giving honor to our veterans, and not one of us is afraid to be here. We are here of our own choice and by our own free will. No one has forced us to come or threatened us if we chose to stay home. Yet even in our own day there are nations around the world whose citizens do not have the same freedom. They do not have freedom to assemble,freedom to speak their mind, freedom to pray to the god of their choosing. We can give thanks to God that we enjoy these freedoms and we can give thanks to God that he has provided us with the men and women willing to serve to protect these freedoms. As we make our way back to our jobs and to our homes let us give thanks to the men and women who have served, often at great risk and always at great cost; as we go home to our families may we remember those who because of their service are separated from theirs; as we leave this assembly to assemble again in our free houses of worship and prayer let us give praise and honor to God who has instituted this right and good office, who defends us from dis order and chaos, who provides for our peace, and who serves us with honorable men and women willing to take up arms and go to fight so that we can live here in peace and prosperity. May the God of all peace and all comfort bless our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.