FREEDOM

What does freedom mean to you?  Picture6
What price will you pay for it? 
Would you be willing to die so others could enjoy freedom?

I’m not sure what the motives were for my father and three of his brothers.  They all enlisted in the military service of their country during WW2.  But, whatever their reasoning, they are my heroes on this Memorial Day.  Returning to civilian life after the war, they continued to serve their families and communities.  In my eyes they put everything on the line to ensure the freedom of every one of us for generations to come.  That kind of courage and selflessness is rare in today’s America.

Freedom is not free.  It comes at great cost.  I often wonder if I have paid my dues – have I paid the price for the freedoms I enjoy today?  Perhaps that I.O.U will come due sometime in the future.  What do I owe and to whom?  Will I have the courage and selflessness to pay my debt?

The greatest gifting of freedom, aside from the sacrifices of our fallen military heroes, has been the adventure of sobriety given to a helpless, hopeless drunk.  Undeserved and unmerited, this gift of amazing grace has allowed a life of celebration and thankfulness rather than one of dread and misery.  John 8:36 says it all:

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

This is not a freedom with conditional clauses and a litany of ‘thou shalt and shalt not’.  It is not tied to any particular faith walk or theology.  It does not consign me to hell for being bad or promise me heaven for being good.  There are only two requirements for enjoying this freedom forever.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all you mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  JOHN 10:27

Pretty simple stuff.  Freedom can be costly, but need not be difficult.

LOVE

 

“hear our prayer this day” by Austin Fleming

Flags waving,
patriotic music filling the airwaves,
picnics celebrating,
picture1kegs of beer overflowing,
tables laden with ribs and beans,
corn on the cob and slaw.

Just another holiday that’s lost its meaning?
Or a time to remember that our freedom is at great cost.

Hear Our Prayer This Day

by AUSTIN FLEMING

In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,
let each of us name and call on the One whose power over us
is great and gentle, firm and forgiving, holy and healing …

You who created us,
who sustain us,
who call us to live in peace,
hear our prayer this day.

Hear our prayer for all who have died,
whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone …

Hear our prayer for those who put the welfare of others
ahead of their own
and give us hearts as generous as theirs …

Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives
in the service of others,
and accept the gift of their sacrifice …

Help us to shape and make a world
where we will lay down the arms of war
and turn our swords into ploughshares
for a harvest of justice and peace …

Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones
and let your healing be the hope in our hearts…

Hear our prayer this day
and in your mercy answer us
in the name of all that is holy.

The peace of God be with you.

JESUITRESOURCE.ORG

 

ADAGIO FOR STRINGS – samuel barber

“the first casualty of war is the truth.”  SENATOR HIRAM JOHNSON – 1917

I’ve been sitting here at my desk for over an hour trying to compose an appropriate, patriotic weekend post for this Memorial Day.  I’ve been sitting here remembering past holidays when I proudly displayed American flags in the front yard for Memorial Day and July 4th.  And, sadly, all that fills my mind are the mournful strings of Barber’s Adagio for Strings.  I remember those sounds from the movie, PLATOON.  It was a somber commentary on the truth of our 1st defeat as a country in battle.  It was  a story which needed to be told about Vietnam, the divisive war which lined the coffers of the American munitions/defense/industrial complex at a cost of 1.4 million casualties of which 58,220 were courageous American warriors.

I won’t put my flags out this year and probably not for years to come.  I may die never again displaying those flags.  Absolutely, I continue to honor and revere those who serve and those who gave their lives in service, but today I kneel with sadness rather than salute with respect the flag which represents a once proud nation led astray by greed and corruption.

A friend recently reminded me that we don’t have to agree politically or theologically to continue loving one another.  I hope he is right and for today I will hold on to that thought for the comfort needed to survive this darkness.

MAY GOD BLESS OUR NATION AND MAY WE ALWAYS SALUTE THOSE WHO SERVED AND DIED.

MAY GOD BLESS ALL THOSE WHO SACRIFICED COMFORT, SECURITY AND LIFE TO DEFEND FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION.

 

TIME TO HEAL

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8New Living Translation (NLT)

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

 

Memorial Day 2016 by larrypaulbrown
Lord, we remember today the killing times,
the loss of life, of innocence.
Our young men of valor and courage,
sacrificed for America’s corrupt,
the wealthy and influential.

We stand yet today on the frontlines watching
the suffering, the pain and weeping.
Our sons barely men, so innocent,
dying for their honor and duty,
while greed watches in complacency.

Lord, we witnessed in 1968,
Chicago, in chaos, as dissenters battled.
Fighting the same war on the streets,
wanting to end that evil in a far off land,
they were draft dodgers, card burners, patriots.

You see, Lord, they also loved America,
wanting only to preserve freedom.
Two battlefields, American brothers,
set asunder by corrupt powers,
wealth and influence intent on plunder.

We must ask who won that war in the jungles,
who has won in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Certainly, some became rich and powerful,
enjoying the booty from their ventures,
it’s that way with all wars.

Those of us who died, have we won?
Those of us who fought in Chicago, have we won?
Because, even though our battlefields were different,
we were brothers fighting for an America we loved,
one not corrupted by greed, power, and cowardice.

Every generation has its war and its spoils,
wealth hidden in corporate boardrooms.
And every generation has its heroes,
the fallen ones and the ones spared,
to give us hope and teach us peace.

There is a time for everything;
to love and hate,
to go to war and make peace,
to cry and laugh,
to speak and be quiet.

But, Lord, what we need more than ever,
now, is a time of healing.
We shall never forget the sacrifices, not ever;
but, O God, bless us today with healing for
the nation, the people, the weary warriors.