EMAIL DEVOTIONAL week of Pentecost 23
Roll call — Remember. You may have a busy day. Me too. But today, if you look, you’ll see flags flying at half staff wherever you live and when you do…remember. Today is Veteran’s Day. Remember. And if you can, say thank you. We’re all here on someone else’s shoulders. —Leigh McElroy
I find my words inadequate when I try to describe how I feel about the sacrifices our veterans have made, and the sacrifices our troops make every day even as you read this email. Many images come to mind … remember … sacrifice … thank you … roll call … grateful. But the phrase that sticks with me today is this one, “We’re all here on someone else’s shoulders.”
I spent the past weekend in Penn State with my family. My kids were playing in the Alumni Blue Band as they do every year. Since Saturday was Veterans Day, Penn State took many opportunities during the game to honor students in the ROTC program … graduates who were serving in active duty … alums who had past military service … families of former Penn Staters who had given their lives in armed combat. It was a pretty moving day in the stadium.
For me, as a civilian, it reminds me that the freedoms I have are purchased by those who have served our nation in faithfulness and with just acts. It reminds me that my ability to honor others with my words or actions or speech is in many ways made possible by those who engage in heroic actions and draw out this spirit within me. I am reminded that in some ways I am literally here because the sacrifices of others have preserved more than my freedom – they have preserved my very life by safely guarding our shores and borders. As I think about these realities, I am humbled.
If you have a similar spirit about you around the time of Veteran’s Day, then I would invite you to pray and meditate on this image of “standing on other’s shoulders.” Pray about how God may be summoning you to a different or more developed ministry of service that has been made possible by those who have preceded you. Pray for the strength to act faithfully and creatively as you consider this privilege of building upon the lives of your predecessors. Pray for a spirit of gratefulness over the fact that you have had people in your life who have first modeled it for you. Pray for those who are in active or reserved status in our military branches, that they might remain safe. And pray to be alert to those opportunities that may arise to honor a veteran you encounter in your life.
The One whose shoulders ultimately hold up all of us, is of course, Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who is the source and norm of our faith. We all recognize that. And so, as you pray this week, ask Jesus to engage your life, either in your private prayer or through the ministrations of others. Ask Jesus to open your spirit to the gift of gratitude. And give thanks that he gave his life so that our lives might prosper.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for a good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 8:6-8, NRSV)