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Your Inheritance, Thank you very much.

May 27, 2009

military-funeral-3

Hard to get the old noggin wrapped around Memorial Day sometimes. It is difficult to think about it in rational terms. The sights and sounds of the day mix to really play with your head, by the end of it all, and it is easy to get swept up into the pageantry of a Memorial Day parade. I found the easiest way for me to get through the parade part of the day was to focus on those who were at the heart of the ceremonies; servicemen and women, the two young Franklin men killed so far in the Iraq war, and the older veterans from past conflicts.

You can hear what I prayed at this event here, courtesy of Steve Sherlock who runs the Franklin Matters blog and podcast. It was overwhelming, at first to stand before that many folks and deliver an invocation. I know some pastors do it every Sunday, but I’m used to a more intimate setting, not to mention one indoors.

I was gratified to find several of our members along the parade route, and I really appreciate your calling out as we walked by. I had just assumed I’d be “the guy walking next to Father Brian,” the new priest at St. Mary’s (quite a going concern in these parts) who is also new. But folks were nice regardless. There was the jeep out front, then a group of vets and service personnel, then the police, and then us clergy, followed by some cars with older vets. There was a lot of cheering for all of them, and it was nice to see them supported up close.

I rant on a bit about the “I support our troops” stickers you see plastered all over cars by people who would never actually DO anything to SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. It is particularly prickly for me since I am not one that is on board with our current conflicts, at least not in the way they began. I believe we are fully committed to the people of Afghanistan (often abandoned by other “conquerers” in the past) and the people of Iraq now that we are there. But regardless, I seek to support members of the armed services through counseling, financial assistance, and connection to services that they may need after they return home. This is hard business, and even those who survive come home with a host of problems and issues, including even just reintegrating into their home and family life.

I was honored to be asked to attend, and I look forward to next year. In the meantime, we’ve got a lot of vets (and many more on the way) who are going to need a lot more than lip service when they get home. Be available and discern what you might do for them, regardless of your judgment on our current conflicts. As Christians, we have a duty to minister to all, and these folks need it badly. It doesn’t change the fact that we can debate the rightness of our military engagements and what those mean to a follower of Jesus Christ. Our service women and men serve to protect our freedom to dissent OR to agree, as our hearts and our faith lead us.

But many have died in many different conflicts so that you and I might have this day, free and clear, to follow the path of our choosing. Don’t take that inheritance lightly. Make something of it that matters. I believe they would want you to.

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