Veterans Day

How many of you know what happens when you bring together the two substances known as vinegar and baking soda? You make a miniature volcano, right? From the moment of contact a powerful reaction takes place creating a lava-like foam that will billow out until the two substances have finished combining.

It's kind of like when you shake an unopened can of soda and then pop the tab. Both are examples of potential energy that lies dormant until something acts upon it in such a way that sets it off. We are like that. Each and every one of us has the potential of amazing strength and endurance when necessity calls us to do heroic acts. The newspaper article in the Gettysburg Times called the men and women veterans, ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

There is an imaginary line drawn in everyone's life that says, when something crosses it, all of our adrenaline is mobilized at once and we are willing to give everything to save or protect what is loved. This is the ideal stewardship - to care for and defend to the maximum - to lay down one's life for the other. It is the example set by Jesus Christ to demonstrate the love of God. And it is that example that is reenacted by each of veterans.

Our soldiers and seamen make that commitment when they put on that uniform and walk out the door of their homes, saying farewell to family, friends, and careers not knowing if they will return again. And, for all those who have served and for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice we give them honor and owe them a debt of gratitude for our freedom and the kind of lives we have today.

Sadly, war is the answer of last resort, because war achieves a measure of peace only by inflicting the loss of life, limb, property, and personal treasures upon the offender. Yet through the centuries, it seems inevitable. There seems to be a natural order of human nature that dictates that any given society will flourish independently only for a short period of time and then slowly erodes until its only course of action is aggression on another society to solve its problems. Then war is the inevitable recourse.

But there is a companion army that exists in this world today and its mission is to infiltrate all societies at the deepest level. It is trained to study and become fluent in their languages and philosophies, be an influencing factor in the development of their business ethics and moral codes, to assist in education and participate in the proceedings of law and government. It is called upon to develop better ways to distribute goods and services so that no citizen will go hungry or homeless or feel useless and rejected. It is called upon to root out subversive practices before they become a strong influence. This is the preemptive strike force par-excellence that accomplishes its mission without any shedding any blood or economic resources. And senseless war is avoided.

This army is better known as the church. It is the secret service of God and God is calling you into active duty. Our world today can no longer exist with anyone sitting in the reserve ranks. It is calling you to mobilize all of the world's resources, to become active in ways you have never tried or thought you were capable of. God is asking us to be the ideal steward - willing to give our lives to preserve and protect not just our own lives but the life of all creation.

Look into your hearts. Where have we drawn the line in the sand? At our front door? Around our church building? Around our town? Our county? Our nation? God is asking us to extend that line to the other side of the globe until it becomes a tiny dot on the polar opposite of where we stand.

Our church building and this congregation are merely the headquarters for the mobilization force that moves outward from this spot into our society and the world at large. As we read in the scriptures this morning, we know what the future holds until the day our Lord returns, but we have also been given a vision of what the Kingdom is like and we can begin living that kingdom now and extending it to all we meet.

This is the season when we develop the plan of action for the coming year, rearrange our troops for peak performance, and allocate the finances for smooth operation of our mission goals. In the next couple Sundays you will have three opportunities to influence that course of action. Vote on the budget, vote on the candidates for council, and fill out the time and talent sheet. For some reason, these three tasks have become tedious chores instead of joyous occasions to serve Jesus Christ.

Let me share with you a story.

At a church meeting, a very wealthy man rose to tell the rest of those present about his Christian faith. "I am a millionaire," he said, "and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I remember the turning point in my faith. I had just earned my first dollar, and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and had to either give it all to God's work or nothing at all! So at that moment, I decided to give my whole dollar - everything I had - to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today."

He finished, and there was an awed silence at his testimony as he moved toward his seat. As he sat down, a little old lady sitting in the same pew leaned over to him and said, "I dare you to do it again."

Now, the reason I am telling you this story, is not to get you to give the church all your money… I am asking you to give all of yourself. Many of us struggle to manage our own budgets and worry if we are going to lose the home that keeps us warm and the car that gets us to work. But all of us were gifted with ideas and talents beyond measure. I believe God had blessed that "millionaire" with the gift of knowing how to multiply that next dollar he earned into business ventures that not only provided him with a profit, but thousands of others with jobs and a sustainable living. And, in order to get tax breaks his companies no doubt gave much away in charitable contributions. That creative knowledge is what I am asking you to give to this church.

The US military has strategic technology that is light year's away from the consumer's reach and always has been. What is on our store shelves right now, the Army has had for years. Our Christian army needs to keep pace with the changing needs and progress of society if we are to be relevant and effective. The church needs your motivation and your creativity to reach the longing, hurting people of the world.

Read other sermons by Pastor Joan