Saturday, April 30, 2011

Victory's Frontlines

Singing songs at 2010 VBS

Sunday School songs have been part of my repertoire for as long as I can remember. As a child, we gathered in the basement of the Byers United Methodist Church and sang tunes like "Deep and Wide," "Wide As the Ocean" and "Do Lord!" We dropped our coins through the little slot in the top of the white plastic church and then sang some more before we went into our Sunday School classrooms.

But somehow, we missed the children's song, "I'm in the Lord's Army." I didn't hear that song or learn those actions until we partnered with another church for a Vacation Bible School years ago.

I may never march in the infantry,
Ride in the cavalry,
Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o'er the enemy,
But I'm in the Lord's army!
Yes Sir!

May is the time when we honor our military heroes - past and present. Saturday, May 21, is Armed Forces Day. Our church bulletin lists military men and women with Stafford connections. There are 24 names on the list, which seems like a lot for our small town of about 1,100 people. After looking at a wall of military personnel at school, I think there are even more than that.

I heard on the radio the other day that there's a disproportionate number of enlistees from rural areas because they have been raised to honor America and to serve their country. It seems to be true for my little part of the world.

Like the song says, I've never marched in the infantry, ridden in the cavalry or shot the artillery. But I am deeply appreciative of the sacrifice our armed forces and their families make for me, my family and my country. We list our service men and women in the church bulletin each week and have their pictures on the wall at school so we are reminded to pray for them and for the other brave military personnel who keep us safe.

I do believe we are all called to take different paths and serve God in the ways that best use the time and talent that He grants us.

From I Corinthians 12:
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. ... 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

I don't fight on the frontlines of a battlefield. But I can honor the men and women who currently serve. And I can make sure that Memorial Day on May 30 is more than a day at the lake or a family barbecue. It is a time to honor our service personnel, past and present. And it's a time to honor family members who have gone on before us.

When we were cleaning out my grandparents' house, I found an old cookbook. It was dated 1942 and was compiled by the Ladies of the W.S.C.S. of the Byers Methodist Church. As I looked through the cookbook, I found recipes from both my grandmothers, as well as childhood neighbors.

The cookbook was produced during World War II. Children collected scrap metal. Families did without sugar and other staples. Women in some parts of the country had to go to work in factories and other jobs outside the home to fill the void left by men who were serving overseas.

In Victory Hints, found at the front of the cookbook, it says, in part:
Victory is more than just another word. It is a challenge to the ingenuity of womanhood. Victory means taking care of and making the most of what we have. It means saving time and strength as well as material things.
Those are valuable ideas, even today.

A friend shared another cookbook published in 1943, also during World War II. In the preface of The Connecticut Cookbook, the writer included a section called Cooking in War Time:
Today, when sacrifice is demanded of us, we have learned the true value of each and every comfort. ... Meat and bread, vegetables and fruits, coffee and milk have become symbols. They are no longer merely the sustenance of physical being, but the strength of the will to win. It has been said many times and cannot be said too often, that this is a war to maintain spiritual ideals. It is a war of progress against savagery, of the power of right over the rule of evil.
During World War II, Americans were called upon to sacrifice.
Food used to be an accepted necessity instead of a luxury. We gave little or no thought to our good fortune in having enough to eat, just as we thought not at all of giving thanks for warm blankets on cold nights or enough fuel to keep from freezing.
Makes you think, doesn't it? Today, military personnel and their families are making a sacrifice, but the rest of us go on our merry way. We give little or no thought to our good fortune in having enough to eat, a roof over our heads and gasoline in our cars (albeit more expensive than we'd like!)

So maybe this is our call to arms. Be that prayer warrior that you are called to be. Be that "service" person who is serving their neighbor or their church or their community. Figure out what gifts you have been given and then endeavor to serve the Lord through those special gifts. Be the Lord's hands and feet in the world today.

Join the Lord's Army ... Yes sir!


Want to make a patriotic treat to celebrate Armed Forces Day or Memorial Day? Try these bar cookie recipes.

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