Honoring Their Legacy
If you are at Chapel Hill on the Sundays just before Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day each May and November, you’ll notice that we have a faithful group of people helping lead worship in a unique way. These men and women help us remember that our faith, though timeless and global, occurs in a particular context—a specific place and a specific time. They draw our attention to the fact that the way we practice our faith is indeed shaped by the nation in which we live, and by the ways our nation has interacted with the rest of the world. And they remind us that while our citizenship is ultimately that of the Kingdom of God, God has placed us in local, state, national, and international communities. Communities that cannot function without honorable, sacrificial, servant-leaders. And so, twice a year, our faithful Color Guard reminds us of the millions of men and women who have answered the call to be those leaders in our armed forces. On Memorial Day, we remember those who went out and did not return to us. We honor their memory and ask for God’s mercy on their families and on our world. On Veteran’s Day, we offer our deepest gratitude to all those who have served, and ask for God’s grace on their lives and the lives of their families and on our world.
In our community, we have the increasingly rare privilege of honoring those who served during World War II. As this generation of Americans ages, the opportunity to say “we see you, and we are grateful” is disappearing daily. This weekend, our Color Guard is honoring Chapel Hill members Ken and Margaret Snyder, who both serve in the United States Navy—Ken from 1943 to 1950, and Margaret from 1945 to 1949. Both served in the Hospital Corps, and we are proud to be able to honor them today.
As we look at the world around us, we see that the relationship between faith and patriotism can be exceptionally complex. And that’s not limited to this century or last—remember our journey through The Story this year as we watched the infant nation of Israel navigate faith, government, politics, foreign policy, immigration and everything in between? So what do we do? How do we navigate the tensions, the complexities, the wide spectrum of opinions and convictions? I will be the first to admit that I haven’t the slightest idea what to do. But I do have some ideas about how we go about navigating these issues, and I suspect that they are familiar to you. We have a Great Commandment and a Great Commission from Jesus—to love God with everything we have, and to go into all the world making disciples. These seemingly simple statements have seismic ramifications on the world around us. Whatever we do next, as individuals or communities, this is the lens we committed to using on these issues when we committed to following Jesus. This is the lens we committed to using on every issue when we committed to following Jesus.
I’ll say it again: I still don’t know what to do next. But I’m going to begin by praying. And I’m going to let the Color Guard this weekend point me to prayer—prayers of gratitude, prayers for mercy, prayers for grace. I’m going to thank God for Ken and Margaret Snyder, and I’m going to ask Him to form me to be like Jesus, who, “though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a slave…” (Phil 2:6-7). That’s the model all of our servicemen and women follow, whether they know it or not, and we are grateful. This weekend, as we honor their legacies, we also honor the legacy of Christ.
With deepest humility and gratitude,