Friday, May 22, 2015

Flags and Flowers

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you (Deuteronomy 32:7).

When he was 9, he wove red, white and blue crepe paper through the spokes of his bicycle and proudly rode after the high school band in the Memorial Day parade. His mother smiled.

When he was 19, he marched as a Soldier in a Memorial Day parade. His parents came to see it. His mother smiled.

Before he turned 21, the hometown Memorial Day parade turned into a place where freshly turned dirt lay before a headstone with his name on it. His mother felt she would never smile again.

There are those who scoff at Memorial Day events, and write them off as an attempt by the government to cover over the horror of war with flags and flowers. In reality, it is a chance to remember and explain.

A veteran of warfare wrote: “The beginning of the end of the war is in remembrance.” Those who have lost sons or daughters or comrades in war need to remember their names and their deeds. It is a debt that is owed. It is a step toward healing.

The pain of loss may be numbed by many means, including stuffing the memory into a dark, far corner of the mind. But that doesn’t make it fade. It just festers there. It must be brought into the light of day and the brightness of God’s Word in order to be accepted and understood.

The dream of no more wars will always prove empty as long as this world stands. It is not God’s fault. It is the outgrowth of sin. But, while sin may be the root cause of war, waging war to protect others is not sin. It is carrying out the command of God in the Commandment that protects life.

Evil is a deadly threat. Peace treaties and negotiations cannot keep it subdued for long. All too soon it breaks out of its cell, and threatens the weak. Sometimes it requires bloodshed in order to put it down. Sometimes it is the blood of the defenders of life that spills onto the ground.

The young do not know this. It must be explained to them. They need to learn of the sacrifices that past generations have made on their behalf. They need to learn that sometimes freedom from evil is bought with blood.

Christians understand this. They remember the story of the Son of God on earth. They know that it was his blood that set them free from the tyranny of sin, death, and the devil. They know that if they are called upon to lay down their life for their country, their Savior will one day raise that body to join its soul in a place where there will never be any war.

Flags and flowers—they help us remember, they help us explain, they help us heal.

We pray:
Lord of grace and glory, Americans remember their fallen on the holiday we call Memorial Day. Help us to remember the cause of war, the horrors of war, and, at some times, the need for war. Help us explain to a new generation the reality of evil, the need for sacrifice, but above all, the need for you. Without you, any victory is fleeting, and any healing is short-lived. Without you, America is at the mercy of its enemies—and its enemies do not possess mercy. Therefore, shower us with your mercy from on high that we may never forget those who died for our freedom, and the One who died to make us free forever.

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain

Hawaii Lutheran Church (WELS)

My photo
Honolulu, HI
Community Lutheran Church holds protestant chapel services in Honolulu, Hawaii near Pearl Harbor, HI. We are next to the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hickam Air Force Base, and Fort Shafter Hawaii. Look for us directly behind the Salt Lake, Hawaii, Target.