Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunrise: Up Early, Up Top

With so little time before we redeploy back to Fort Stewart and reunite with our families and friends, it can be difficult to focus and appreciate the Easter event for its foundational role in providing meaning and purpose in our lives. In an effort to reclaim this understanding, we woke early this Easter morning to celebrate Easter in a sunrise worship service. We collected what few chairs and benches remain in the area and gathered on the roof of our battalion headquarters. We were senior leaders and junior Soldiers, male and female, black and white, and represented a vast array of denominations to include those with no religious preference--only in combat do we see such unity in diversity. We opened singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" and SGT Goudy offered the invocation. SSG Smith, SPC Willis, and CSM Johnson provided our gospel readings, and COL Rathje prayed for us and led us in the Lord's Prayer. SPC Thomas played the guitar and SGT Dewalt led us in singing "Amazing Grace". SPC Thomas expressed concern that his rendition may have been a bit too country. We were also joined by several civilian contractors and interpreters whose fellowship has been a blessing to us this fifteen months.

Among the principles we discussed this morning was the renewal of life that often occurs in the desert. Whether it's ancient Israel, the Savior himself, or those deployed to combat zones in the middle east., the opportunity to set aside the clutter and clamour of the world's distractions and focus on one mission can be a blessing (as long as it's not too long, of course). We must allow him to focus us that we may remember that God calls us into personal relationship with him; he does this through Jesus. He calls us by name. It was Jesus speaking her name, that caused Mary to recognize him. It was Jesus blessing and offering his disciples food that caused them to see him. Even though, at first, their eyes did not identify him--they later recalled that their hearts burned as he opened to them the scriptures. Broken and sinful, we must not think we can be his disciples without fully relying on his redeeming grace. When we think such discipleship is too hard, it is usually because we are trying to do it all on our own. It's not too hard; it's impossible. And yet "with God, all things are possible" (Matt 19:26). Jesus' disciples in the first century were just as clueless and scared as we are in the twenty-first century. The hope that comes from his Resurrection overcomes our fears.

It has been an inexpressible joy to witness the spiritual maturity of many leaders and Soldiers during this deployment. Some of the darker moments of this tour were particular opportunities for growth and understanding. Just as we sometimes witness Soldiers who have become physical or psychological casualties--the threat of becoming a spiritual casualty is equally real. I thank God that so many of our Soldiers have developed a relationship with him and continue to find his peace.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hope you`ll die fast :)

Pursuing God said...

Hey, I'm not sure who this anonymous idiot was, but sir/ma'am, if you don't like Christians, then why comment on their blogs? Anyway, I am a devout follower of the Lord who is currently in school to become an Air Force chaplain. I am following the blogs of several chaplains across all the branches of service, and I love your blog! God Bless.