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Memorial Day

by davesandel on May 31st, 2021

Monday, May 31, 2021                       (today’s lectionary)

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Memorial Day

Brothers and sisters, let love be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good and love one another with mutual affection.

My friend Gonzales says it’s being going on forever. And he’s right. Redemptive violence has us by the … neck, and it has never let go. Cain’s struggle against Abel, replicated a trillion times since we were cast out from the Garden, offers itself up today, on our Memorial Day, as we find ourselves surrounded and caught up in our memories of its victims.

Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.

Of course “victims” means those who died. But what else does it mean? Real people on both sides of every conflict have lost their peaceful places in their own private worlds to patriotic fervor and slapdash slogans like … The only good Indian is a dead Indian, or Kill the bastards! Pick your enemy. We’ve had plenty of them. And the slogans of our enemies are often even worse.

Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit … serve the Lord.

The “sting” torpedo in Destination Tokyo was covered with graffiti like “Remember Mike! For Mary Lou! So Sorry!” And in this odyssey through war, broadcast all weekend by Turner Classic Movies, I felt my heart leap with excitement over and over in the critical moments, the killing moments, the moments of victory over an enemy. That energy uncovers and infects me like it does most of us.

Exercise hospitality and bless those who persecute you, do not curse them.

The other night Andi and Aki shared ideas from a talk inspired by Psalm 23. “Thou preparest a table in the presence of mine enemies.” For us, surrounded by American countryside that has not seen much war in decades, those enemies are internal. They asked, “What keeps us from inviting those enemies to the table with Jesus?” After all, they are right here with us, and at that table change takes place, transformation. Before we know it, “our cup runneth over.”

But I get in my own way. Andi writes, “Put yourself in His hands.” Yes. Every day again, forever more.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, the Almighty has done great things for me, he has mercy on those who fear him.

Mary’s talk with Elizabeth proclaims the power of God in “lifting up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” But when we take that power into our own hands, certain that God is on our side, self-righteous revenge becomes the order of the day, and there is no end to it.

Near the end of Destination Tokyo, a lone Japanese warship nearly destroys the American submarine. At last Cary Grant says, “I think we’re gettin’ tired of being pushed around.” And to stop that, to protect themselves, his crewmen follow orders to destroy their pursuer, which of course was trying to destroy them. “Fire one! Fire two!” Then “Yippeetiyiyo! Sweetheart, I love ya! There she goes. Down for the deep six.” The tables are turned.

Then in a moment the killing on both sides is replaced with scenes of the Golden Gate bridge and strains of “Oh, say can you see …” Our boys are safe, and those other boys are dead. The sailors have plans, to eat green vegetables and drink Kentucky whiskey, to “go to a platter shop, and get drunk on Dinah Shore records … Maybe wives have a way of knowing when their husbands are coming home. There she is!”

The movie ends with more Star Spangled Banner and another encouraging patriotic word, as the camera pans and follows a submarine heading out to sea. “Good luck, and good hunting!” Catch us up, Lord, and protect us from ourselves.

God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the Lord, with joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.

(Zephaniah 3, Romans 12, Isaiah 12, Luke 1)

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