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Posts Tagged ‘“Weapons of the Spirit”’

Three seemingly disparate events occurred on this date:  

1.  On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the armistice was signed ending World War I and this date became Veteran’s Day.  We remember all military, soldiers and sailors, who have defended our nation in war.  We thank them for their service and the best way to do that is, as is rightly encouraged in the media: THANK A VETERAN TODAY!2. On this date, Martin of Tours, Pastor and Bishop was buried in the city of Tours, France:

Martin was born about the year 316 in the town of Sabaria in the Roman province of Pannonia, present day Hungary, of a pagan family, his father a Roman legionary. He spent his boyhood in Pavia in Lombardy where he came under Christian influence, and at the age of ten he decided on his own to become a catechumen (a catechumen is a person preparing for Holy Baptism. When he was fifteen, being the son of a soldier, he was drafted to serve in the army. He was apparently a good soldier and popular with his comrades. One winter night when he was stationed in Amiens, Martin saw a poor old beggar at the city gate shivering in the cold, and, having nothing else to give him, he drew his sword, cut his own cavalryman’s cloak in two, and gave half to the man to wrap himself in. The next night Martin dreamed of Christ in heaven wearing his half-cloak and saying, “Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with his cloak.” The young soldier, however, found it increasingly difficult to combine his own ideal of a Christian life with the duties of the military. Eventually he decided to be baptized and asked to leave the army, since he was no longer willing to kill. Like his modern counterparts, this fourth century “conscientious objector” had difficulty proving he was not a coward, but finally he was released, now about twenty years old. (from Festivals and Commemorations by Philip Pfatteicher)  But sensing a call to a church vocation, Martin left the military and became a monk, affirming that he was “Christ’s soldier.” Eventually, Martin was named bishop of Tours in western Gaul (France). He is remembered for his simple lifestyle and his determination to share the Gospel throughout rural Gaul (present day France) (From Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

3.  On November 10th, 1483  a miner and his wife gave birth to a son.  Baptisms were done quickly due to infant mortality. The next day Hans and Margarette brought their son for Baptism, St. Martin’s Day.  So they named him Martin, as was the custom, after the saint’s day he was baptized.  The son baptized today was Martin Luther.

What do these 3 commemorations have in common? These two Christian saints and veterans is all about being a soldier.  We give thanks for those veterans who served in our armed forces.  I have heard many a veteran say that I did my duty and I came home.  War is hard, to say the least.  Many veterans do not want to say what happened over there.  They bore arms to defend our freedoms inscribed in the Constitution, the words of the charter of our political freedom. Martin of Tours left one army and joining the militia Christ, the army of Christ for the salvation of souls.  As bishop he did battle against the heresies of his day and served his people the green and eternal pasture of the Word of God.  He fought against the powers and principalities:  sin, death and the power of the devil. The man named after him, Luther, likewise did the same. Martin and Martin bore the weapons of the Spirit to defend the charter of our eternal salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth.  Martin and Martin did their duty, lived their callings.  

This day is united in thanksgiving for our freedom, political and spiritual.  We are freed from tyranny of political and spiritual despots and so freed to serve our neighbor, our nation and church, as free citizens of both that any tyranny is defeated.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; We give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

 Lord God of hosts, Your servant Martin the soldier embodied the spirit of sacrifice. He became a bishop in Your Church to defend the catholic faith. Give us grace to follow in his steps so that when our Lord returns we may be clothed with the baptismal garment of righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns With You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

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In a sermon entitled, “Where are you, Adam?”, by Rabbi Marc Gellman (published in First Things), among the many cogent Torah-centered observations he preaches, this is one of many that stands out:

In The Altruistic Personality, their book about Christians who saved Jews during the Holocaust, Samuel and Pearl Oliner asked what distinguished the rescuers from the majority who did nothing, or were complicit. Their conclusion was that they were not distinguished by educational level or by political views or even by attitudes towards Jews. They were, however, different in two critical respects: they were strongly connected to communities that had straightforward and unsophisticated understandings of right and wrong, and they had a powerful sense of moral agency and shame. They said over and over again in interviews that they could not have lived with themselves—and many said they could not have answered before God—if they had not done what they had done. The righteous gentiles of the Holocaust came from communities and families that had prepared the way for their courage by teaching them how to feel shame and therefore virtue and courage. In this country those same institutions are often preparing the way for moral relativism and cowardice by teaching that nobody really knows what is right and what is wrong, so what the hell.

Jesus taught about children being brought to Him and His erstwhile disciples who were preventing parents from bringing  the children to Him, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (St. Matthew 19: 14)  Why do children get it, that is Jesus? Children know right from wrong.  It’s that simple.  They know goodness and evil. The families coming to Christ in His reign knew this.  The good fairy tales and children’s stories are filled with this moral clarity.  Children are ashamed when they are caught.  Their understanding is wonderfully unsophisticated.  Rabbi Gellman’s citation is most illuminating.   It was not the academic elites who resisted Nazism and their treatment of the Jews but those who knew right from wrong.  Many were Christians who are derided in our day and time as “fundies”, or cultural neanderthals and the like.  A  good documentary on one village of 5,000 Huguenots in France who saved the lives of 5,000 Jews is Weapons of the Spirit by a man who was saved at birth in Le Chambon, Pierre Sauvage.  Why did those villagers risk so much?  Their answer:  we had too.  Why?

Your Word is a lamp to my feet
   and a light to my path. Psalm 119:  105

His Word is quite clear and lights our path.

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. (St. Matthew 11)

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