Friday, October 15, 2010
In Honor of Lieutenant Looney
This last week on the cover of the local newspaper was a photo of a young man who died in the war. Lieutenant Brendan Looney, USN, 29. He was a navy seal, and one of the nine special forces personnel killed when a NATO helicopter crashed in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
He was on the cover of our paper because of his connection to Calvert County. So many were looking forward to him coming home this month - and this tragedy struck everyone so deeply.
The funeral was at Arlington was last week – and as ridiculous as this may sound, the TV news reported that as the hearse rounded the hill to enter the gates of Arlington, they were greeted by several protestors. Yes, protestors. Angry people who were not there for any personal reason against Brendan (they didn't know him) but they were there to make a theological statement about his death. The statement on cardboard signs was their statement of faith "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." "God Hates You."
Paul in his writing in 2 Timothy points out that heretical teaching harms innocent bystanders. This was certainly true last week.
The actions of the protestors have become a case to be argued before the Supreme Court - They call their protesting "freedom of speech." And certainly people have a right to such freedom.. but even when it means offending the family trying to make their way to the funeral of their young son killed in combat?
For the court, the question is: When does free speech become harassment?
For me as a pastor, the question isL when does for freedom of interpretation of scripture (which I believe we need) become harassment?
Paul's advice to Timothy,was not to fight the battle but to remind them. Remind them.
Remind them of what?
Remind them of the salvation story. The Holy Mystery. That Christ is Died, Risen and will come again. Remember it for yourself and remind others. It will keep things in perspective.
The Holy Mystery of our salvation is profound. We all can agree that there are things on this side of heaven that will be won and lost. But the one who is eternally linked to the soul of Christ Jesus will endure, die and be raised to new heights in the end. What matters most, it seems, is that we cling to the truth of this Holy Mystery... even though it holds a truth that none of us can ever fully grasp.
I offer the Holy Mystery to my brothers and sisters of WBC who believe that God is punishing our nation by killing soldiers. I remind you of the salvation story. You are right that in order for us to be saved, there is punishment for sin. But the punishment is over. The debt of sin has already been paid. No more sacrifices need to be made to attone for the sin of our our nation (or every nation for that matter)
The mysterious part of all of this is that the punishment was not upon us who deserved it, but upon Himself. He paid the cost. Once and for all.
I remind you and I remember it for myself because in pondering this mystery of faith is how we grow in grace.