“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Amidst the yearning of the soul and the cries of the spirit, there is no greater longing than that of freedom. In the face of oppression and tyranny, bondage and slavery, we cry out for it. In the darkness that seeks to grip us, strangling the life and the hope from us, we seek it. In the depth of our despair, as scorn and humiliation is heaped upon us, subjugating us in the pain and anguish of our hurt and sorrow, we try so desperately to grab hold of it. When it is gone it is that far distant guiding light we reach for to carry us to those far distant shores where hope and peace dwell.
Yet, for all it means to us when it is ripped from our grasps and held far distant from us, when we have it, we don’t cherish it as we should. Easily do we toss it aside as if it never mattered, not because we now find ourselves in the meager estate of captivity, but rather because we have indulged in its liberties for so long that we have learned to take it for granted rather than to value and treasure it as we should, as we must. We don’t always humble ourselves as we should, nor do we always show the care and the charity that we are called to. Even as Christ, our dear Savior, shed his blood, sacrificing for us our freedom, breaking the bitter chains of our bondage to sin, death and the Devil, we so often misuse the liberty that it brings, so often wasting ourselves, our time and resources on our own hollow pursuits, rather than giving ourselves in love to others.
Yet, as the Prophet reminds us, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love, mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
This, dear brothers and sisters, is what makes the men and women who serve in uniform so special. They, as our Savior did as He sacrificed Himself for us and our freedom, never ask what can liberty do to advance me, but, rather, what can I do to advance it for others. They stood, and they stand, not just in defense of a principle or an ideal, but willingly offer themselves up as a sacrifice for that ideal to encompass our lives, to guide our days, so that we can live in it, taking hold of us in the most significant of ways, even when we fail to honor it as we should. If, as Christ himself has said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12 and 13) then, in our veterans, in our service men, we see the greatest of loves, the love of our blessed Savior, magnified in their sense of duty, honor and sacrifice.
If there is a price to pay for freedom, these are those who willingly pay it. They offer to us not just everything that they are, but everything that they hope to be, with an unparalleled courage. If there is blood to be spilled they spill it, even on those shores far from all they know and all they love. They willingly give of themselves until there is nothing left to give for those who may never know their name, or faces or the price they paid so that they could live and love and think and be, free from domination, foreign or domestic, free from the control and authority of those who would rob us of those rights we have been endowed by our Creator with. If it were not for them, we as Christians, would be forced to worship in secret, as so many persecuted before us, and throughout the world, now find that they must. The name of Christ, now on our lips, in prayer and joyful thanksgiving, can be spoken in public, without fear of arrest or intimidation by the authorities. If it were not for them, the Cross we take up to preach the good news of salvation, would be more than some could bear as their faith was crushed under the burden of oppression. It happens every day in countries throughout the World without the liberty we now enjoy because of the sacrifice of our veterans.
That is why we, as Christians, need to be especially grateful, not just today as we honor our Veterans, but every day. We have more rights to worship, to speak the name of Christ, to live in our God given Christian Freedom, not because governments gave them to us, but because, in the face of overwhelming circumstances, in the great challenges to liberty that have arose, in the painful divides that sought to rip us asunder, those brave men and women stood up to be counted, not as soldiers of invasion or enforcers of tyranny and oppression, but as defenders of freedom in a sinful world that would seek, more often than not, to rob us of that which is most sacred to us. They did it not to be thanked, or to hold a special place or position in our society, those who do make it home don’t seek glory or fame, but often just normalcy and peace. They do it because they believe in something greater and grander than a sense of self, or their own personal safety, they believe in something more powerful than the tranquility of a peaceful life. They do so because, in humility, they give themselves in love to their neighbor in the idea that all people should be free and be safe to be free.
Remember then, dear brothers and sisters, the sacrifices of those men and women who have served and continue to serve, and see it as a reminder of the love of Christ manifested in the lives of those who make that powerful statement for the principles of freedom and liberty. See it as a calling to humbly submit to yourself in love for each other and those around you, willingly sacrificing, as they have, as Christ Himself had, for the freedom of others, using the gifts and the blessings your freedom has brought you to edify and uplift others, showing charity to the poor, advocating for the disenfranchised, defending the defenseless, giving hope to those who are lost in sorrow and despair. We have so much because of the willingness of Christ to make His stand, because of the willingness of our veterans to make their stand. Now we, in the deeper calling of the spirit and the soul must be willing to ask where and for what are we willing to make our own stand in love for others.
Honor our Veterans, remember them, and most importantly remember what they have and continue to sacrifice for. As you do, give yourself to service to one another, showing a sincere love for them in all that you ae and all that you do. Sacrifice for their liberty, offer of yourself for their freedom, whatever it may be that holds them down or holds them back. Each of us have an enormous capacity to be a source of strength for the weak, a source of hope for those lost and fallen, when we just give of ourselves, thinking of others first, before ourselves. That needs to be what guides us, and when it is we realize just how truly miraculous the freedom given and defended truly is.
God bless you. God bless our Veterans. You are remembered and cherished so dear in our heart.
Now may the peace of the Lord, that peace that transcends all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds, spirits and souls in Christ Jesus even unto life everlasting, Amen.