Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Still Remembering

On Monday, I attended a Memorial Day ceremony at which were rededicated 29 trees in remembrance of those killed in service to their country. One  was for someone I knew personally. The people leading the ceremony asked us to keep remembering after Memorial Day, so here goes.

I knew Danny as an active and friendly boy. He faithfully attended my Sunday School class in the early 1980s. He was a good friend of my brother. He grew up, entered the Navy, and was deployed to the Persian Gulf.

Early in the Desert Shield operation, Danny -- Engineer's Mate Third Class Daniel M. Jones -- was killed in an electrical accident while performing routine maintenance aboard the  USS Antietam in the Persian Gulf. He was 19.

My brother and I were at the youth conference at the time, working on staff; I as the registrar, he as an SIT. As they do, the community surrounded my brother as he mourned his friend and supported me as I broke the news to others of our church who were present, supported my brother, and mourned myself. Most had never met Danny, but they prayed for his family and for peace.

Danny is listed as having been single at the time of his death, but he left behind a girlfriend. His parents and six siblings keenly felt the loss.  His wake and funeral were very  well attended, a testament to his youth and the lives he touched as a US Sailor. The pastor gave a powerful sermon reminding us that God, too, had lost a son and that a part of Danny would live forever. It was broadcast on the news, reminding our nation of the sacrifices military members and their families make.

People like Danny need to be remembered outside the immediate circle of their family. They died for all of us. Until there is peace, someone will always be dying for our freedom and safety. I close with a prayer that Eleanor Roosevelt carried on her person during World War II.

Dear Lord, lest I continue in my complacent ways, help me to remember that someone died for me today. And if there be war, help me to remember to ask and to answer "am I worth dying for?"

Who did you remember this Memorial Day?

Looking for an excellent learning opportunity for your high schooler? Consider the Christian Youth Conference at Ocean Park a two week residential camp for teens held in early August on the beautiful southern coast of Maine. Celebrating 100 years!

Monday, May 25, 2015

(Belated) Song for Sunday: The Battle Hymn of the Republic

For Memorial Day, in honor of all the men and women who have died in the service of our country, a link to this powerful hymn, sung by the US Army Chorus.

Happy Memorial Day!!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Death Penalty

"Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends."
                                                                  ~Gandalf the Grey
                                                                in Fellowship of the Ring
                                                                   by J.R.R Tolkein

It's been just over two years since the Boston Marathon was shattered and marred by bombs. Two years since an act of terrorism horrified -- and galvanized -- a city. 

We saw evil that day. We saw good that day.

Two brothers were believed responsible. One died before being brought to trial. The other has been convicted on 30 counts of murder, attempted murder, terrorism.

The jury has decided that he should die, that he deserved the death penalty. Perhaps they are right. 

I do not find this a cause for celebration. That a young man could go so far wrong, is horrifying, saddening. That he be killed for it may be just, but it won't bring back those he killed or restore the legs of those who lost them. It will not erase memories. 

It won't even bring closure. Appeals, potentially years of them, will keep this case alive and before the victims. That it will bring more anguish is why the Richards Family asked that the death penalty be taken off the table.

I do not know what is right, what is best. I favor banning the death penalty, because the justice system isn't perfect and because I am pro-life. In this instance, the facts are clear and guilt has been admitted, albeit with the claim of undue influence from an older brother and the mitigating factor of a dysfunctional family. Still, we are all ultimately responsible for our own actions and choices.

Gandalf is right that even the wise can not see all ends and I am far from wise. I do not know what should happen here. 

Whatever it is, though, I won't be celebrating. I will pray for the soul of this young man. I will pray even harder for the healing of his victims. 

I will pray for us all as we seek peace and a world beyond terrorism.

God bless.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Eco-Challenge Part 9: Rinsing Plastic Down the Drain

Do you wash your face with plastic?

Although some companies are phasing them out, and New Jersey has banned them, there are still plastic microbeads in many beauty products. They make a cheap and effective exfoliant. However, when you rinse them off and they go down the drain, the end up in the ocean. These beads are too small to be filtered out.

There are options.

Microbeads are not the only effective exfoliant. there are natural ones that are safer for you and the environment.

Ava Anderson Non-Toxic sells products without plastic ingredients. Other companies do, too. I happen to  be hosting an online Ava Anderson Party right now, so if you are interested and you know me in person send me a Facebook message or an email.

Otherwise, just look for "microbeads" or "polyethylene" in the ingredients list of your products and, if you find them there, consider switching.

Here's more info:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Forgiveness: A Psalm About Our Forgiving God.

Psalm 103 is labeled "Forgiving God." in my Bible. It fits.

I offer it as today's post in the forgiveness series. May it be a blessing to you.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.