This morning in men’s Bible study we got to one of my favorite parts of Genesis – the redemption of the 10 brothers who assaulted their brother Joseph and sold him into slavery. Without giving the whole story away for the Monday night group who has yet to study this passage, there comes a point at which Judah (one of the 10 brothers) offers his life in order to secure the life of his baby brother, Benjamin. It’s a huge turn around as this very flawed brother sets his own self-interest aside in order to save his little brother. The scriptures actually honor Judah’s sacrifice by calling Jesus “the Lion of Judah” because Jesus also offered himself to save all of us!
This idea of self-sacrifice has come down to us in our Judeo-Christian culture as a virtue which is honored. It is this concept of service and possible sacrifice upon which our military service rests. It’s the reason we say, “Thank you for your service” on this Veteran’s Day. We recognize that those who sign up to serve in our armed services understand they are serving not just the nation, but their families and neighbors and communities in order to protect our democracy. They also know that it’s possible they may be asked to even sacrifice their lives.
My dad is a veteran of the Korean conflict. He has never spoken much about his service except to say that he didn’t really do much. In fact, my father was “found out” on the way to Korea. It was discovered that he was an organist by training, and the military chapel in Tokyo was in need of a chapel organist. Dad was pulled aside and enlisted to play for services and direct the choir. Dad said the only “military” thing ever did was to periodically guard the motor pool. Last fall I met another veteran who diminished his military service. Doc Atkins said he got off easy when his number came up for the Korean conflict. He was stationed in Germany as a medic and mostly gave inoculations. He felt lucky to have missed Korea.
While I know there have been many in the armed services that faced danger to life and limb, I have to believe that all service on behalf of our country… all of it matters. All of it is necessary, important and honored on this day. Those who serve in a variety of ways follow in the footsteps of the one who gave his life as a ransom for many – even Jesus Christ.
To all those Veterans on this important day. Thank you for your service. Thank you for putting self aside in order to serve others.
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