The War Effort – (Response to terrorist attacks in Paris)
Sermon by Pastor Deb Grant November 15, 2015
Grace and mercy and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.
“What did you do during the war, Daddy?” - That was the title of mediocre film decades ago but for someone like me – born in the middle of the baby boomer generation, we grew up watching World War II movies and listening to the war stories of the generation of our parents. That question was a painful one for my father because the injuries he suffered in a car accident prevented him from military service. He wanted to serve the war effort so he moved from the island off the coast of Maine where he had grown up to Massachusetts to work in the Springfield armory. That is where he met my mother who worked – like Rosie the Riveter – to fill in factory jobs while the able-bodied men were serving in overseas. I grew up listening to their stories of their relatives who served or died in the war, their stories of making the rifles that helped the war effort. And there were all the other things done stateside to help the war effort – rationing food, gas so that more resources could go overseas. My mother had a small vegetable garden- a victory garden and canned food. They saved aluminum foils – even when I was growing up my mother made us save the foil that was used to wrap slices of gum just because it was the habit that was so ingrained in her during the war.
Lydia (a member of Faith) this week shared with me that during a luncheon last week they honored all the veterans, giving them all a pin in honor of their service. Someone let the host of the luncheon know that Lydia had served as a cadet nurse which was a civilian service corps to fill in the shortage of nursing stateside. She got a pin and she felt honored to receive that pin that acknowledged her service on the homefront for the sake the war effort.
She reminded me again of the practice during the war of putting a banner with stars on your window or door – a star for every member of that household serving in the military during the war. Blue for active service, gold for killed in action. A humble reminder to all of those who lost loved ones in the war effort.
Yesterday, listening to news of the terrorist attacks in Paris, I heard the president of France say that this was an act of war. I heard Pope Francis say that this is a piecemeal World War III. The wars we have fought since World War 2 – notably the Korean war and the Vietnam war have drawn us in and escalated. They had a clearer understand of the geographical location of the front lines and the movement of enemy troops. There was more unrest at home about whether or not we should be involved in those conflicts at all and so it was less clear about what to do at home to help the war effort. This new war, though it has some geographical locations – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria…..the front lines in terrorist war are where people go to work every day or watch a soccer match or eat in a restaurant or shop for groceries or go to a rock concert.
We are a people at war. The enemy is difficult to isolate in a geographic location though our military may know or at least try to know where they set up camps to train. The enemy goal is death even if it means their own. Their greatest weapon is being able to recruit suicide bombers. They feast on hopelessness. Terrorist leaders take names of those whose express anger and hopelessness on the social media and invite them into an opportunity to change the world, to have an impact, to make their choice for death matter. Terrorist keep track of those people who have lost parents, spouses, children in violent conflicts. They look for ones who are wallowing in loneliness, isolation and despair. They fuel their angry and despair by recruiting them to wage war by killing themselves and causing as much death and pain behind them. Thus creating more angry, hopeless, grieving ones looking to find meaning in death. We are a people at war. We are a world at war.
And so we are confronted again with the question – what are we going to do for the war effort? There have been and will be those who go and take the fight to the enemy. Most of us, however, are still wondering what can be done even as we feel the uncertainty of knowing that this war has no frontlines, no lines we can work in back of to support the war effort.
The reading from Hebrews today gives us a timely reminder that as Christians we are well-quipped to help in the war effort especially in this kind of war where the enemy feasts on hopelessness. Hear this word of God to the people of God of this generation and time.
“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
This is what we can do for the war effort in our time. We can be people of hope. Instead of adding to the discourse of fear, hatred, blame and despair, we can hold fast to our confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Instead of, with our rhetoric fuel more hatred, we can grow victory gardens in the way we talk about the world and people and the future. Our children and our grandchildren are listening! Our children and our grandchildren’s ability to hope is dependent on our ability to grow that hope with our own faith. My Mom and Dad helped in the war effort by making the weapons to put in the hands of the soldiers on the front lines. We can help in this war effort by putting hope in the grace of God in Jesus Christ into the hands of our children and a world that needs hope. Provoke one another to love and good deeds. Meet together. Do not wallow in isolation, in loneliness and despair. Grow victory gardens with laughter, encouragement, dreams.
If we want to do something to help in the war on terror, then let’s grow hope. Let’s worship a lot and often, let’s eat together as often as we can, let’s tell each other where we have seen Jesus, let’s build another well in Africa, let’s fill an Empty stocking with Christmas presents, let’s help the Early Learning Center build a new playground for the children, let’s read the Bible to our grandchildren and pray with them, let’s call a sick friend. If we want to do something to help in the war effort, then let’s hold fast to our confession of hope without wavering and starve the enemy who feeds on hopelessness to death.
Martin Luther said that if he knew the world was going to end tomorrow then he would plant a tree. That is what faith in Jesus Christ gives us the power to do in the face of death. No matter how old or young we are, no matter how many wars we have seen fought in our lifetime…..this is the war of our time and we need everyone on the frontlines as champions of hope. When someone asks us in years to come, what we did during the war……I have confidence that we will be able to say…..in the face of evil and death, we planted a tree……in the face of despair we never wavered in our hope in Jesus Christ. Amen.