bits from bob....

On Honoring Our Veterans

by Robert J. Young
November 1, 2004
©, 2004, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

A letter to the editor in the local paper this week bemoaned the fact that no church in the community had advertised a Veteran's Day celebration or sermon. The author of the letter wanted to let everyone know that the church where he attended did celebrate Veteran's Day. How do you respond to such a letter?

Frankly, my response is mixed. I appreciate the veterans who fought for our freedom and those who continue to fight for freedom. On Veteran's Day, I got up early and put my flag out and remembered the veterans and fighting men and women in prayer. We owe a great debt of gratitude as a nation to those who have fought for freedom at the price of death, disabilities, imprisonment, and continuing psychological casualties. But since the church is not a political institution, I wonder what we should do as a congregation beyond encouraging prayer and gratitude. I am not certain where a Veteran's Day celebration fits into an assembly dedicated to remembering our Savior. I am not certain how or whether one should mix the purely secular and the spiritual.

We have much to be thankful for at this holiday season. I recently read an article by Jay Lockhart that mentioned another set of veterans--veterans in the faith. We in the church stand on the shoulders of many who have preceded us in faith. We may not sing the song often, but ours is indeed a "Faith of Our Fathers," ever new and ever renewed in each generation. The church has multiplied veterans of faith. We today benefit from the sacrifice and vision of those who planted churches, purchased buildings, established colleges and universities, began a host of benevolent efforts, and pioneered mission work in places where few were (and are) willing to go. We are recipients of the generosity of many who made it possible for us to be where we are today. They preached sermons, taught Bible classes, evangelized their communities, and passed on faith to their families.

I encourage you to make your own personal list of veterans--whether in the military or in the faith--and give thanks for them at this season. We can honor them most by making sure that the sacrifices they made will not be in vain--that we will continue to carry the torches of freedom and faith.

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Last updated November 18, 2003.