Courtesy: Daniel Bramlett
I’m thinking about our Veterans this morning. Sunday was Veteran’s Day and had to be reminded of that. I am thankful for the reminder, but not thankful that I nearly overlooked it. So much is written today about the forgotten Vet: fighting for his medical benefits, wrestling with PTSD, battling his marriage on the home front, even flirting with homelessness. I do not know any of these men and women. The Vet’s I know have all seemed to pull it together and found a new life and a new normal. While I know what battles can do to you and I know many who ‘survive’ the gunfire and bombs come home and find it hard to survive in the world with the rest of us. But I believe most who weather the battles come home and weather civilian life like the rest of us.
Here’s where I’m going with this, most of our Vet’s appear to blend right in, but they shouldn’t. We shouldn’t let them. At least for this one day each year we should parade them through town, feed them all the best food, and recreate as best we can a hero’s welcome for them. Why? Because they fought for us. They stood for us. They won for us. We hug them when they come home and then we ask them to blend in. Some can’t. Most do.
I know our community has lost its fair share of men and women through the years to various wars, wars that we’ve never had to see because they saw them and fought them and won them. For that I thank them. For the freedom my kids have to go to sleep at night and not worry about bombs going off I thank them. For the sheer freedom my wife has to walk down the street and not be shot, hit, or threatened I thank them. I thank them because I can still worship in freedom and say what I know needs to be said from the pulpit with my words or worship being censored.
I love to read the stories about when faith and war intersect.
I love the story of the truce on Christmas Day in the middle of WWII on the German front lines. I love the stories of Christians rescuing wounded soldiers, nursing them back to health, and eventually introducing them to Christ. I love to hear about church buildings being used as hospitals for the wounded (our most functional role in war time and peace). I do not enjoy war stories, but I do love to see Jesus people moving into some of the darkest corners of our globe at our darkest hours and offering hope, truth and life.
Some of my favorite war stories do not end well. I am reading “Bonhoeffer”, a book titled after its main character Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a WWII German pastor. Bonhoeffer stood against the Nazis regime, preached the Gospel in the face of death threats multiple times, immigrated to the US as a potential escape from the tumult of war, and was led back to Germany to shepherd his nation through their dark night. Bonhoeffer was eventually jailed for his insistent stand against the persecution of the Jews and his refusal to bend to the policies of Hitler. He died in his cell just days before Germany surrendered.
Bonhoeffer led a nation of Christians to thrive in one of their most insurmountable times. They fought for justice, stood in the face of prejudice and hatred, and won a victory in the name of Jesus. Our Veterans have done no less. War is ugly. It is destructive on so many more fronts than the battle lines. Countries take years to recover from its devastation. Some never fully recover. What is certain, though, is that God has set aside men and women to face the fearless monster of war and win. For our Veterans of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and roles I am thankful. You are needed, wanted, and loved. Thank you.