Over the last fifteen months the American people have been masked, muffled, silenced, frightened, bullied, manipulated, and cancelled. We have died a thousand deaths, deaths to freedom, to faith, to family, to children, to the aged, to human dignity and the sanctity of life. We have been publicly shamed and privately imprisoned. We have been ordered to stop singing, stop speaking, stop shaking hands. We have watched loved ones die alone. We have been ordered to abandon funeral gatherings to mourn together and comfort one another. We have been banned from church and temple. We have been prodded and pushed and pricked, catalogued and analyzed and researched. We have been turned into numbers for data, both real and unreal, both true and false. We have been lied to by leaders we trust and our trust is broken along with our hearts. We have been used, and the users should be ashamed.
We have not fought and died in a war, as heroes did in Europe and Guam, but we have stood our ground. We have survived one of the greatest attacks on Western Civilization in history. We have watched our cities burn and our businesses vandalized. We have been denied police protection. We have been called names unrepeatable in civilized society, judged irredeemable and deplorable. We have been derided and defamed by Machiavellian might, by elites, corporations, tech, media, academia, and the deep state. We are American heroes.
We have done all this, survived all this, in the name of freedom, freedom we can still see in the distance, a light flickering but not put out, and we pray that we are nearing the end of the darkness that has fallen over our land of the free. We are American patriots.
Power has been usurped by elites in the name of public health and safety, as a virulent virus traveled the face of the Earth, seeking to devour. Mandates grew and multiplied, to feed a frenzied and fraudulent election, to skew and deceive, to win at all costs the Presidency. Hatred fueled hatred, dividing Americans into tribes at war with one another. The hatred rose like a river of hot lava against our sitting President, Donald Trump. The haters schemed, by any means, to remove this American hero, one who rarely slept and gave himself to his beloved American people, one who brokered Middle East peace, high employment for all, border protection, law and order, oil independence, protection guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – protection of our freedoms, free speech, freedom to worship as we choose. He made America safe and strong, unified not divided, proud of our light on the hill and our history of heroes like him.
And so, this weekend we remember the members of our nation who protected freedom with their lives. We see the flags flying, red-white-blue, alongside the white crosses in a grassy field of dreams against a windblown blueness that only a loving God could provide in this time of sorrow and joy.
We are reminded that sorrow and joy go together, as do suffering and love. They are intertwined, for they tell the truth about the human condition, the common experience of mankind – life and death and life again. The flag reminds us of our country and all that freedom means. The white cross reminds us that the hand of God is upon us and we need not be afraid. The Son of God, the humble preacher from Nazareth, who suffered and died, rose to life, for us. These fallen heroes who protected us, kept our country and way of life safe and sacred, today sing praises to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, before his throne, before the glassy sea, alongside the River of Life. They glance to Earth and see us mourn. They see our love. They say, no more tears. We are saved by the white cross washed by the blood of the Lamb of God. We are singing, Holy Holy Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
We remember them in song and prayer and ceremony. We celebrate the Holy Trinity as we are lifted into love.
We look around us for more heroes born into our own time, born into this time of challenge. We look for heroes to protect our nation – and the world – from this tyranny. We look to those who will speak, who refuse to be silenced, who stand to be counted, not cancelled. We look to those who revere our history, protect our heroes of the past as well as the present, and learn from our mistakes to make a more just future.
We attended St. Joseph’s Chapel in Berkeley this morning for the first time in fifteen months. It was good to be home again. It was good to sing with others, to be part of a joyous corporate worship. The singing rose to the vault and soared out the high clerestory windows. We thanked God that we were able to join together once again. We thanked God for his three persons, the Holy Trinity, and his care for us, his great love. For we know our freedom comes from him.
And we thanked God for our nation and those who died for her, those who fought for her. My father was a Chaplain in the Navy in the South Pacific in World War II. He led men in prayer over caskets draped in the stars and stripes. He wouldn’t talk of those years, although he was one of the survivors. Instead he led others to Christ, protecting them from the darkness, until the spirit of the age of doubt engulfed him, darkened his vision. But I am proud of his service, both to our nation and our Church. He made a difference on board the U.S.S. Phoenix. He made a difference in the pulpit, in Bible study, in youth groups, in camps. He made a difference.
May we never forget to remember, to free our world with Christ, to celebrate the Holy Trinity in the fields of grass, marked by the white crosses and American flags. May our memories carry the past into the present on this Memorial Day. May God bless America.