At church this morning, one thing that we did was honor the people there who had served in the armed services. I talked with Ed, who sits in front of me most Sundays, and he told me that he served in the Navy during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. While those who had served in the army at my church outnumbered those who served in the other branches of service, I’ll bet that Ed served in the military more than all of the people at my church!
I was a little ambivalent about Veterans Day this year, for a variety of reasons. For one, why the heck is it on a Sunday? As far as I know, I have never experienced Veterans Day on a Sunday! Second, I tend to recoil from nationalistic rhetoric about soldiers fighting for our freedoms, for I doubt that a number of wars really have anything to do with our freedoms. And, third, I know some servicemen who are pretty arrogant. But I did feel inspired this morning at church as I saw people from our greatest generation stand up and tell us the branch of the military in which they served.
We sang the hymn, Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee, which I enjoyed. Later, we sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I like to read the lyrics of the hymns after singing them, for that is when I get to see what the hymns are really saying (which I’m not focusing on while I’m singing them). As much as I respect the author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”—-abolitionist, suffragist, and pacifist (!) Julia Ward Howe—-I find the lyrics of that hymn to be rather vacant, with all of its triumphalistic rhetoric and its talk about God as judge. I don’t feel particularly fed by the lyrics of the “Battle Hymn”. But I absolutely love the lyrics of “Joyful, Joyful”, which were written by Henry Van Dyke (whereas Beethoven wrote the music), for they are about how creation testifies to God’s greatness and majesty and how God shines his light into our emotional and relational darkness.
During the prayer part of our service, a lady suggested that we pray for the leaders of our country. I could not agree with her more, for we are currently in a pretty precarious situation. The sharp increase in taxes and decrease in government spending that could be coming up could very well hurt the economy when it is already struggling to recover. But we can’t do nothing about the national debt, for that can hurt our credit and discourage people from investing in us. Something needs to be done, and it seems that Republicans and Democrats are both stubborn about certain planks of their ideologies. I do need to pray that our leaders will have wisdom and judgment in handling this problem.