Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus (John 15:13)
The greatest gift that we have in this world is life. Life comes to us as a gift; we have no part in our creation. We are not consulted on the timing or the location of our birth. We do not get to vote on our gender, our hair color, or our family of origin. We simply arrive, small, wet, squinty-eyed, and totally dependent on others for our survival. We let out a borning cry and the journey begins; day one is ours, a birthday celebration, and in the 80 or so years that follow, every day is a gift.
The greatest gift that we have in this world, is life itself. Giving up that gift for the sake of others is the ultimate sacrifice. In the verse quoted above, Jesus was about to die. He would soon face the cross, giving up his life for those he loved, setting aside the pleasures of this world as an expression of love for every human being. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for others.
In Pandemic 2020, we have witnessed the selfless sacrifices of health care workers. It is estimated that more that 1,700 medical professionals have died in 2020, their deaths directly attributed to their care for Covid19 patients. First responders regularly put their personal safety in peril as they live and die in service to others. Parents sacrifice for their children. Mothers die in childbirth. The lives, careers, and finances of parents are put aside when the time comes to sacrifice for their children.
Officiating at a wedding, I had the privilege of meeting the father of the groom, Special Agent Larry Cockell. He was the head of the Secret Service security detail responsible for the safety of President Bill Clinton and his family 24 hours a day. Every day and every night his security team was ready and prepared to give up their lives to protect the President.
November 11 is Veteran’s Day. Veteran’s Day began as Armistice Day and was first observed on November 11, 1919. One year earlier on 11/11 at 11:00 am the “war to end all wars” ended in Europe. Nearly a decade after World War Two, on November 11, 1954, the United States would celebrate “Veteran’s Day.” It was a day to honor all who had served our nation and its citizens in the Armed Forces. On Memorial Day we remember those who died in the defense of our country. On Veteran’s Day we honor all of our vets.
In my early years at Trinity, I had the privilege of having lunch a couple of times a month with our World War Two veterans. Among them, Paul Skinner, who had five planes shot out from under him in the European theatre, Eldred Eckloff, who fought at the battle of the bulge, Frank Deffries, Bill Langdon, and Jess Cook. We still have at least three World War Two vets at TLC, Web Halvorsen, Milo Milfs, and Clayton Engebretsen. Last Thursday, I had lunch with Korean War era Veterans: Rudy Rudolph, LeRoy Rothe, and Tom Nack. It is fascinating to hear their stories; it is an honor to break bread with them.
On behalf of a grateful nation let us give thanks and express our gratitude to our Veterans. We owe them a debt that cannot easily be paid. They gave up the comforts of home, they laced up their boots and crossed oceans, to protect those at home. The greatest gift that we have in this world, is life itself. Our Veterans offered their lives for us.
Pause for a moment this day and consider the sacrifices that were made for you. Take time to reflect upon the patriots of the American Revolution, the pioneers who blazed a trail West, those who fought to end slavery, those who worked tirelessly for Women’s Suffrage, for Civil Rights leaders, and for those who dreamed and worked to make this a more peaceful world. And consider the bread and wine that we will share next Sunday. Jesus gave his life for you. Jesus blood shed and body broken.
Our lives are a gift to us, it is all gift, but gifts do not come in isolation; they are the result of the sacrifice of others.
Blessed to be a Blessing- let us live our lives in response to the gifts given to us.
Thank you, Veterans!