Pastor Hans Lillejord's sermon July 24, 2016 is now online.
A Celebration of Our Veteran
This article will come just after our God and Country celebration, where each year in our community we honor the Veterans of past wars as well as the active members of our present armed forces who keep us free in our beloved country.
The Veterans of past wars come in a number of different sizes, shapes and ages. their experience of past wars spans World Wars and several foreign conflicts. They have been in Flanders field,
Iwo Jima, the beaches of Normandy, Porkchop Hill and the rice paddies of the Mekong Delta. No matter where they have been, all Veterans share a common bond - a brotherhood of memory and hard won wisdom that helps define their character.
A Veteran is the first one up when the flag passes by and the last man down, for they have been witness to the blood and tears that make our God & Country program and all parades possible. A Veteran is a man of peace, soft spoken, slow to anger, quick to realize that those who talk most about the glory of war are those who know least about its horror. The Veteran does not joke about war because he has been there and still recalls in his memories the dying, the widows and orphans. He knows firsthand that no war is good and the only thing worse than war is the loss of freedom.
The Veteran is a friend to all races of men. He lives with the knowledge that is not the man who is the enemy but enslavement and false ideologies who are the foes. Many of those who they once faced as enemies across hostile battle lines, he now esteems as brothers. A Veteran is at once proud of the fact that in 240 years our country has not had a foreign enemy totally invade our country, and humble in the realization that many of his comrades who helped make the dream a reality never returned home to our country.
Know Me, Lord!
To be considered important, valuable and wanted is one of the basic needs of our lives. So often we feel like we're just a part of a crowd. In the stadiums, ballparks, arenas and sometimes the bigger churches, we feel like just an indistinguishable face in a very big crowd. We find, in our mailboxes, letters and other mail addressed to "occupant". We hurry down streets where no one may recognize us. Sometimes we began to wonder if our lives have any significant meaning to anybody else. Many experts think that many of our social problems come from this need gone astray; people searching for a way to say "I'm important, I count for something, please notice me!"
The truth be told, is that we are all noticed much more than we realize. We are noticed by friends, family, colleagues and even strangers are affected by the things we do and say. But even beyond the associations of other people, there is a vast amount of love and concern from the God who loves us all. It should be comforting to each of us to know the prayer of the poet
"O regard me, Lord" from the music "O Divine Redeemer" is answered even before it is asked. Whether or not we feel the praise of others, or we feel ignored and unknown, the Lord always regards us. To Him, our importance is never dimmed.
The old Testament book of Jonah, tells of the prophet Jonah. He didn't appear to like God's command to go to a city and preach His word. So Jonah fled, or at least tried to flee from the presence of God. He thought of God as only a local deity from whom he could hide. Perhaps, you and I have tried to hide or feel hidden from God. Sometimes, we think, "Who am I that God should care about or notice me?" After all, we are only one out of billions of people who inhabit the world. It strains our imagination to think that we are worthy of being "regarded" by God, Himself.
Learn to Listen
We are supposed to be living in an age of communication. Satellites are in our skies, reflecting words and pictures to radios and television sets. We send countless emails, text messages and post on social media, and human voices fill the air in a ceaseless drone.
The effective speaker is a powerful person in today's society, and communication is lauded as a panacea for many of our problems. So, we are encouraged to improve our abilities to get our point across and effectively state and support our position.
It is good to be able to articulate our views, but there is another communication skill that is equal in value and vital to the worlds well being, one that is very often lost in the babble of voices wanting to be heard. This is the priceless art of listening.
The listening that we have become accustom to today is often a faint shadow of the real thing. Because there are so many voices and sounds that clamor for our attention, we have learned to turn a semi deaf ear to much of what we hear.
Effective listening, of course, is more than just being quiet. If it is done well, it is an active and demanding spiritual labor. To listen well demands our full attention not only to words but to the inflections, expressions, body movements, the things left unsaid, and any other signals the person may be sending out.
Effective listening requires empathy, the ability to put ourselves in the position of those who are speaking to us, to feel as they feel.
Good listening demands understanding of others, their desires, their hopes, fears and problems. We are always so quick to judge and slow to understand.