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Children who are truly loved know they are valuable

by davesandel on November 18th, 2021

Thursday, November 18, 2021                                   (today’s lectionary)

 Children who are truly loved know they are valuable

The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy came to the city to organize the sacrifices. Many joined them, but Mattathias and his sons gathered in a group apart.

The Lutheran School of Theology held a conference, during the same week as the Democratic National Convention of 1968 in Chicago. Larry Kleiman my friend from Valpo, and I, decided with permission from our parents to attend the conference. It was Lutheran, it was safe.

Lutheran, yes, safe … no. After a Monday full of introductory talks, the conference director said, “There is too much happening on the streets of Chicago for us to be hidden away in here!” We all agreed, and so on Tuesday night, Larry and I spent the night in a small park near the Chicago Loop, surrounded by … demonstrators!

We were on the same wavelength with them. I had campaigned in the fall and spring for Senator Eugene McCarthy, running in the primary against LBJ (the chant went: Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?), who in his Texas-sized fears scaled up the Vietnam War and in the process ruined, for the time being, his stellar civil rights reputation.

President Johnson engineered passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, increased immigration quotas, reduced taxes, began the War on Poverty, Head Start, the Job Corps, the Food Stamp Act, Medicare and Medicaid, the National Endowment for the Arts, and PBS. He signed one of the largest federal gun control laws in history, as well as the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act.

If this day you only knew what makes for peace. Yet now it is hidden from your eyes.

But he was afraid of Communists, and that trumped everything else. So we were in the protest lines, Larry and I, and spent the week at Grant Park, tumbling over each other trying to avoid tear gas and billy clubs, and getting more and more self righteous.

I came home to Lincoln before heading back to Valparaiso, and wrote one, then two, letters to the editor of our daily paper, the Courier. Since I’d been a reporter for the Courier between high school and college, my friend the editor Ken Goodrich printed them. They were, however, somewhat unprintable and certainly unacceptable to the good folks of Lincoln. Lots of angry letters back.

Mom and Dad didn’t go back to Valpo. They went back to church, to Krogers, to buy Christmas clothes for all of us at Landauer’s. They went back to town, to their friends, to their community.

Mom didn’t flinch. She wrote her own letter. She fielded phone calls. She defended her son (that would be me). I felt more loved than I can even now imagine.

Call upon me in time of distress. I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me.

Eight years later, toward the end of my “independent” years, I joined the Moonies. Their mostly false reputation for child-stealing frightened Mom. But I was 26, master of my own universe. We had heady conversations on the phone about theology and my uncertain future. Would I follow Rev. Moon to the end of the earth?

Turned out, no. After two years I called Mom from Barrytown, New York, from the Unification Church seminary pay phone.

Are you coming to my cousin’s wedding in Rhode Island?

No, we can’t, she said. Too much to do, you know, with harvest and all.

Oh, OK. I was thinking of coming home with you.

Ah. She heard me, she hesitated for less than two seconds.

Well, then. We’ll be there.

I never felt more loved.

A few days earlier I’d taken the down escalator in Grand Central Station in Manhattan to the trains, and a huge Kodak picture on the wall caught my eye. Family photo, everybody happy, everybody loved. That was me that day.

God the Lord has spoken. Perfect in beauty, God shines forth, from the rising of the sun to its setting.

I hitchhiked to Rhode Island, watched the sun rise after a gentle rain shower just before dawn, attended the wedding, went home with Mom and Dad, and a week later met Margaret.

Good times.

 (1 Maccabees 2, Psalm 50, Psalm 98, Luke 19)

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