(30,000 American flags in Boston Common, Boston, MA, in remembrance of the 30,000 Massachusetts soldiers whom have died in combat since the Civil War)
When military remembrance days fall on the calendar, I usually think of Granddad. His life was transformed by the military. Coming from a small town in Northeast Iowa, Jerry Zubrod joined the Navy, made some of the best friends of his life, met his sweetheart, and used his GI Bill. He became the first member of my family complete his college education (University of Washington).
Granddad didn't speak often of what he experienced, only occasionally with his military friends. So I grew up not really knowing much of war and military service.
Military remembrance days have taken on greater significance in our time, and we now have four days on a calendar that reflect that memory--September 11, November 11, July 4, and Memorial Day in May.
It doesn't seem that hard to me to host a parade, slap a bumper sticker on the car that says "Support the Troops," or 'like' a military-oriented post on Facebook.
It doesn't seem that hard to me to criticize The Military Industrial Complex. As the Information Age meets social media, it's even easy to voice protest about military action both home and abroad.
The challenge for people in the United States who follow Christ is to recognize all military personnel and their families as people made in the image of God. It's easy to hide behind ideologies, regardless of where you are on the continuum of understanding the military.
People and their families who serve in the military are not anyone's pawn. They are people of flesh, blood, and bone. The challenge for any ministry to military and their families is to be there. For people serving in active duty, and for families who pick up the pieces when a loved one dies serving, how can people be present, somehow sharing the faithfulness of God's love?
I consider care for military personnel and their families one of the greatest challenges in this season of ministry. Veterans come home and experience higher unemployment rates, divorce rates, suicides, and mental illness than the general population. I can't forget to mention those who were killed during their service. All of these things contribute to death, and it is the call of Christ to share love, and that means it takes on action and faithful presence.
Sure, I can do the easy things, and I pray for God's wisdom and mercy to join others in doing the harder things.
Today I think of Nathan Proctor blessed at St. John's Lutheran Church as he left for Afghanistan. I think of people who lost loved ones to military service, who knew something of the pangs felt by family he left behind. In the call of Christ, serving military and their families is not a ideological act, it is a response because we see people who are made in the image of God who are hurting. At St. John's Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Washington, they are our neighbors.
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Location:W Squantum St,Quincy,United States