NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR MAY 25, 2014
While most folks think of Memorial Day Weekend as the unofficial start of the summer and vacation season, the reality is that this federal holiday was so designated as a time to remember those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces “Making A Difference” in the life of America.
As an Air Force Vietnam era veteran, as I consider their sacrifices on this Memorial Day Weekend, I’m frustrated by allegations that those who sacrificed but are living, don’t get the medical services promised and owed to them. Currently, if allegations are true, elaborate schemes have being made to hide that fact while some of those that sacrificed may have even died waiting for doctor’s appointments.
We should be outraged by such allegations. However, let me hasten to say that I’m also very frustrated to remember the sacrifices for freedom that so many have given for this country because they truly believed that as a country “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women, inclusiveness added) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” only to watch as our Supreme Court, our political apparatus, and rich plutocrats make decisions and do everything within their power to deny the very freedoms and opportunities these men and women died for in “Making A Difference” in the lives of their fellow citizens. Where is our outrage against these things?
Having worked for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights for many years now, and watching the astounding progress that has been made in that time, I’ m frustrated that our community will settle just short of the promised land, at the very least, we will celebrate our victories and not help in “making a difference” in the fight for our neighbors to make a living wage, ensuring that people are able to vote unencumbered by today version of poll taxes, or join in efforts to be good stewards of God’s earth.
What’s even more frustrating to me as we remember those who sacrificed for this country, is how often church folk side with such actions instead of being a prophetic voice in “making a difference” for those whom Jesus called “the least of these.” It’s frustrating to preach about Jesus’ bias toward the poor and the marginalized for all these years, but then can’t seem to get people who have insurance to fight for people who don’t. The Governor of Alabama won’t expand Medicaid when it’s being paid for by our tax dollars going to Washington and cost the state nothing. So the working poor will suffer, perhaps die; and good church folks just don’t seem to be bothered by that fact.
Some will read this and disagree with me. That’s okay! Others will read it, agree but wonder Yeah, J R, you’re right but what can I as one person do about all of this.” On this Memorial Day, when we are remembering those who died in service of “making a difference” for our country: I encourage you to say to yourself each day, “Get up and make a difference: there are thousands of ways to make the world and our community better places. Find the ways you can do so, and do it”
You can start by joining us for worship this Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. I will be preaching a sermon called “Making A Difference,” based on I Peter 3:13-16a and John 14:15-17.