In just over a week we will have our Veterans’ Day service at Church of the Advent, and this has caused me to think about the service provided by our veterans, and in many cases the sacrifices many of our veterans have undertaken to ensure our safety and freedom are retained.
I myself have not served in the military, but my Father did so in World War II, and was captured at Dunkirk and spent the remainder of the War in prison camp. He volunteered as soon as the U.K. declared war on Germany and felt it was his duty to serve and fight the tyranny of the Axis forces. Both of my mother’s brothers served in the Canadian Airforce during the war, with one losing his life and the other remaining in the Airforce after the war, finally retiring as a Group Captain. Again both volunteered at the start of the war feeling it was their duty to serve their country and fight the tyranny of the Axis forces.
Having grown up talking with family members who have served in the armed forces, and with others, many my peers who served in Vietnam, I have come to appreciate that Veterans’ Day isn’t just about celebrating those who served, but rather it is remembering why they served. As abhorrent as war is it is sometime a necessary action to right wrongs and bring freedom and a beneficial life to people who are being repressed by their regimes. The bible does not address military veterans specifically, but it does speak about the principles that our veterans embody – freedom, sacrifice, overcoming fear, being brave and heroic – values that are often lost in our self-serving culture. In many ways, veterans are one of our best examples of Christians as written in John Chapter 15, verse 13 “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Other verses’ from the Bible that could and do apply to veterans include:
· I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
· I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7
· Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people. Ephesians 6:7
The Bible is full of stories of veterans and their good deeds, and the ones I particularly remember from Sunday School are David, Joshua and Gideon to name a few. They are all strong military leaders. Not only did they serve their nations but they also were strong servants of God, just like our many veterans at Church of the Advent.
David’s military leadership was decisive and effective. He captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it his royal city and residence. Shortly afterward he brought the Ark of the Lord from the house of Abinadab to Jerusalem, publicly acknowledging the Lord’s kingship over himself and the nation.
Joshua’s remarkable life was filled with excitement, variety, success and honor. He was known for his deep trust in God. In the Sinai Peninsula it was Joshua who led the troops to Israel to victory over the Amalekites.
God chose Gideon to deliver the Israelites from the hands of the Midianites, sending an angel saying “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior”. Gideon’s faith was tested as God reduced his army to a small unlikely force of 300. God showed his faithfulness when the small 300 man army defeated tens of thousands of the enemy.
At Church of the Advent we have many members of the congregation who have served in the military, ranging from the Army, the Airforce, The Navy and the Marines. Many have seen live action dating from the Second World War through Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars. On Sunday November 10th we will celebrate these brave men and women for their service, and many of us will remember our own family members who may have served their countries like I will mine. I think the following by Syndy Sweeney from “Who the hell am I…Honestly” is a fitting tribute to our veterans who we will celebrate on November 10th.
Those of us who have not served will never fully understand the sacrifices you’ve made both in times of peace and of war.
We will never fully understand what you were required to do or how you were able to do it.
We will never fully understand the depth of your scars.
But what we can offer you is this:
We see you.
We recognize your humanity.
And we send you love that is gentle, patient and healing.
With Blessings and Gratitude we ask that you remember you are loved.
Respectfully submitted by