a different kind of Memorial Day

 

This is a different kind of Memorial Day for me this year. For today, instead of commemorating the death of American soldiers who died in battle – a very humbling thought in itself and something for which I am deeply respectful! – I want to deliberately remember the civilians of all nations who have died due to war.

The memorial I have in mind is not wrapped beautifully in red, white, and blue – or the colors of any other nation’s flag – but, is draped only in the blackness of grief and death. It is not limited by boundaries established by men and their choices, but is limited only by the extent of humanity. It is not to glory in any one people’s way, but to glory in the Lord’s way alone.

A legion of memorials and monuments are to be found across the globe commemorating the death of soldiers from every nation. But where are the monuments, the days, the parades, etc. in remembrance of the civilians who died? They are not nearly so prevalent or prominent, are they? One can only wonder why. After all, civilian deaths typically far outnumber military deaths in any war.

Read that last sentence again and let the cold hard fact of it all soak deep into your spirit.

Take World War II as an example. Estimates of the total number of deaths in all countries affected by that war alone typically range somewhere between 60-80 million. How many of those were military personnel? 22-25 million. A horrific sum! And how many were the number of civilians who died? 38-55 million. Horror x 2. They were old men and women. They were infants and small children. They were the handicapped and the vulnerable. They were the marginalized and the forgotten.

They were victims of disease, dislocation, and deprivation. They experienced rape, torture, and ethnic cleansing/genocide. They succumbed to abandonment, imprisonment, and starvation. They were stripped of dignity, dehumanized, and altogether undone. Their deaths were accidental and deliberate, intentional and collateral, contrived and common. But all of them had this one thing in common: their deaths need not have been.

Truly, war is hell. But it is hell for all involved. May we never forget such or give such only passing remembrance. And so let us make all the more effort to remember quite clearly and more often that the greatest price paid in war is paid by those who never take up arms.

Pray with me, won’t you?

Father God, we long for the time when all wars will cease. Help our hatred for such be like your hatred of it. May we be so caught up in such that our distinctiveness to the ways of this world are obvious to all. And so, grow in us now such a spirit of peace that we run not to make war, but peace. To the end that the evil might have time to repent and so that all the more innocent might be spared. And so we ask: bring in your kingdom. Bring it in through us and bring it in now. In the name of the Prince of peace we pray. Amen.

LIFE group guide: eradicating the Easter error

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (April 20) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this sermon.

To consider some of what it means for us that God raised Jesus back to life.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

•  God raised him from the dead … (Acts 2.24)

•  … they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead … (Acts 13.29-31)

•  … believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (Romans 4.24)

•  We were … buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6.4)

•  … he who raised Christ from the dead will … give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8.11)

•  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10.9)

•  … you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus … (1 Thessalonians 1.9-10)

•  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1.21)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. When I think of someone being “dead” I think of them being ___.”

2. When I think of someone being “alive” I think of them being ___.”

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Which NT writer speaks by far and away most frequently of Jesus being “raised”?

2. Using the texts above, make a list of what believers do in light of Christ’s resurrection.

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. Which do you think of most often: Christ’s cross or his empty tomb? Why?

2. Could the Father have not raised the Son? Explain.

3. What is the greatest evidence, or witness to, Jesus having been resurrected?

4. “If the power of the God who raises the dead is working in me as a believer I can ___.”

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Mediate daily on God’s character and power as revealed in Christ’s resurrection.

2. Start each day: “God, I will let your life-giving power be shown thru me today by ___.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Affordable Care Acts / Obamacare: * Affordable Care Act and Health Coverage; * Obamacare: Your 12 Biggest Questions Answered

* “On next Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Americans without health insurance coverage will be able to enroll for coverage under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The process is fairly simple. You can apply online at www.healthcare.gov.”

* “Will the new insurance exchanges make buying insurance on my own easier? … I’ve already got insurance at my job. Why does any of this matter to me? … I’ve been buying my own insurance for years. What changes? … Will the exchanges lower prices? … What about my premium? Up or down? … Can I still buy insurance off the exchange? … Will I really have to pay a fine if I opt out? … I keep hearing about subsidies. Who is eligible for one? … I’m retired. What do I need to do? … This all sounds pretty complicated. Do we have a logistical disaster in the making? … Could the government still pull the plug? … What happens if too many opt out?”

Arrogance & pride: Three Signs of Arrogance

“Now, of course, you might say, “Not me! No way I am even remotely an arrogant person.” Sometimes we think of people who act pompous and immediately conclude that we are certainly not arrogant. Yet, arrogance sometimes comes out in people who think they are … better … smarter … more important.”

Children, parenting & youth ministry: Anonymous Youth Pastor’s Letter to a Parent

“I need to get something off my chest. When I first came to this church, you told me how excited you were that I would be showing your kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian. You told me you were praying for me and that you had my back. You had high hopes for the youth ministry. I had high hopes too. But I must confess that I am frustrated right now because I feel like you’re working against me, not with me.”

Civility, internet, respect, rudeness, speech, thoughtlessness & words: ‘Popular Science’ Shuts Comments, Citing Internet ‘Trolls

“We’re all familiar with that deep, dark rabbit hole of Internet comment boards. A negative or critical comment sparks a firestorm of debate until the discussion erodes into a cavalcade of insults and personal attacks. Once you finally snap back to reality, you realize you’ve often strayed so far from the original story that it’s often difficult to find your way back.”

Death, heaven, resurrection, the intermediate state & transformation: NT Wright on the Intermediate State

“Going to heaven when you die’ is not held out in the New Testament as the main goal. The main goal is to be bodily raised into the transformed, glorious likeness of Jesus Christ.”

Deception, government, money, poor & wealthy: Interests of the Wealthy Elite and Myth of Government “Inefficiency”

“What is very much a biblical concern is that ‘the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice’ (Micah 7:2-3). A government that deserves the support of people of faith is one that stands with the weak against the strong. Those responsible for governing who fail to do this are the very ones ‘who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right’ (Isaiah 10:1). The rich who use government to their own advantage also promote distrust of government that serves the broader legitimate interests of the population.

“It is to the advantage of the power and wealth elite to convince others that the government is wasteful, ineffective and untrustworthy. The mighty moneyed elite have pressed this message incessantly for decades. They have successfully mobilized their media and advertising power to shape the perceptions of many to the advantage of the few. And the push toward privatization has filled their pockets to overflowing.”

Education: Education Statistics: High School Diploma or Higher, by Percentage (Most Recent) by State [Texas comes in dead last]

“Percentage of population over 25 years old with a high school degree or higher.”