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Message From Pastor Leon

posted May 24, 2016, 8:31 AM by Tracey Morris
You will be receiving this newsletter near the time of Memorial Day, so I am including a Memorial Day meditation written by Bruce Epperly, professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Epperly not only expresses appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who served in the military, but also points out that we should all be inspired to also make whatever sacrifices are necessary to preserve and improve the lives God has given us and our great heritage. Epperly writes:

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As a child of the 60’s, I remember protesting the war rather than honoring the lives of soldiers. But over the years, I have come to appreciate the men and women who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation. Once known as Decoration Day, because tombstones were decorated with flags and flowers, Memorial Day is a time of remembrance and gratitude for those who have died serving our country in the military, beginning with the Civil War and today in Iraq and Afghanistan and across the globe. Memorial Day is not a glorification of violence, but a time to remember and give thanks.

Memorial Day invites us to remember the sacrifices of others and the intricate interdependence of life. Our freedoms and way of life are not accidental, but the result of the sacrifices of others. None of us is self-made. We all need one another to achieve the most important things in life, whether in relationships, personal well-being, or spiritual growth.

In addressing the issue of sacrifice the words of Romans 5:1-5 provide a starting point for conversation. In the context of his own sacrifices, and the first Christians sacrifices, the apostle Paul notes the connection between grace and character. Having awakened to God’s grace and glory in our lives and the world, we can “boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given us.”

Paul is not glorifying suffering, but asserting that in a grace-filled world, we have all the resources we need to grow through the challenges of life. We are not victims, but actors in the transformation of our lives and the world. In the journey of faith, character is everything and character is grounded in moment by moment choices to look beyond our self-interest to embrace the well-being of others. On Memorial Day, we remember those who sacrificed their lives for a cause greater than themselves, but we also commit ourselves to sacrificial lives – to letting go of the ego for the greater good of our families, churches, community, nation, and the world. Memorial Day challenges us to balance self-interest with the larger community interests. These soldiers died for a dream – the dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people in our community. Living by these values is how we honor those who have sacrificed on our behalf.

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Have a great summer!
Pastor Leon

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