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Signs of the Times  •  11 November 2020 •  No. 208

Processional. “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round,” Freedom Singers perform at the White House.

Above: Wild poppies grow in the “Trench of Death,” a preserved Belgian World War I trench system in Diksmuide, Belgium

Invocation. After Tuesday Prayer

Thank you God, for the shaping from the saints in our lives…for the foolish and the wise ones, the serious and the silly ones, the reserve and the overbearing ones, the mischievous and the obedient ones…lives whose presence have broadened and enriched our own.

Free us from regrets by your grace.

Strengthen us by the witness of your hope-bearing and love-embracing saints before us.

May these days make saints of all of us in perseverance in the struggles, in resistance to evil forces, in reliance on your Spirit.

After Tuesday, may we pick up where we never left off…feeding the hungry, teaching and tending the children, listening to the lonely, comforting the broken-hearted, healing the sick, raising all those who are dead and disheartened in spirit.

After Tuesday, may we be found among that countless number who still practice the politics of praise for your creation, and who have always made art of your divine deal of reconciliation.

After Tuesday, may we be counted among that number who still lives for your great dreams for humanity again and again and again…bolstered by the resolve that we are stronger together when we sacrifice together for the common wealth, the common good, the common cause of justice and peace.

After Tuesday, may you still find us with Jesus, walking unafraid, unfaltering…undone only by your Spirit swirling in and around us all.

After Tuesday, may we be convinced more deeply than ever that nothing, neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from your love.

Through the Christ of love, we pray and pray and pray. Amen.
—This prayer by Nancy Hastings Sehested was originally written following the 2016 presidential election. It remains pertinent.

Right: Painting by Angie King

Call to worship. What we affirm after the election. “It’s easier to be a parent this morning. It’s easier to tell you kids character matters. . . .” —continue listening to commentator Van Jones’ emotional reaction on CNN to the announcement of Biden’s election. (2:13 video.)

Hymn of praise. “And I want to thank You, for always being there / I’ve been down and out, but You’ve always been right there beside me / And there have been times, Lord, when You were the only friend, / only friend I had.” —Perry Sisters, “I Just Want to Thank You Lord

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Two featured meditations on Veterans Day

On the origins of Veterans Day

Veterans Day doesn’t lend itself to commercial attention like its twin, Memorial Day, probably because it’s squeezed between two other cash-registering holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving, and it does not coincide with a car-cultural observance like the Indy 500 auto race.

But it is a federal holiday, what was originally called Armistice (or Remembrance) Day, marking the cessation of World War I hostilities on the 11th month of the 11th day at the 11th hour in 1918.

The “remembrance” is stirred by the poem, “In Flanders Field,” written by Canadian John McCrae, a Lieutenant Colonel during the war, from the point of view of the dead, early in that conflict before the war’s romanticism turned to disillusionment.

Here are four things people of faith should reflect on in this season. —continue reading “On the origins of Veterans Day

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Dad’s “Heart Shield” Bible

At right (below) is the image of my Dad’s “Heart Shield” Bible, an edition of the New Testament on to which a metal plate has been attached. The engraved cover, now smudged by corrosion, reads “May this keep you safe from harm.” It was sold by the Know Your Bible Sales Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, manufactured by the Whitman Publishing Company, Racine, Wisconsin, and was designed to fit into a soldier’s uniform shirt pocket. Multiple stories exist of soldiers reportedly spared serious injury when bullets struck this tiny piece of body armor.

An inscription inside the cover indicates that Dad’s sister, my Aunt Juanita, gave him this gift. No date is listed, but it was sometime before Dad landed with the first wave of soldiers storming Omaha Beach in the 6 June 1944 D-Day invasion of Allied forces on the French coast in World War II. Dad was among the fortunate survivors, though he carried for the remainder of his life a piece of German artillery shrapnel embedded in bone behind his right ear.

I pause on this Veterans Day to ponder a number of questions. . . . My questions are not with soldiers’ moral capacity or disciplined devotion. Rather, they are about the object and point of reference of such capacity and devotion. My argument—where it arises and modest as it is—is about whose promises are more reliable and whose provisions are more decisive. These are questions about to whom the future belongs and about the footsteps toward that future. —continue reading “Dad’s ‘Heart Shield’ Bible

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Confession. “I believed you when you said / that I should trust the words in red / To guide my steps through a wicked world / I assumed you’d do the same / so imagine my dismay / When I watched you lead the sheep to the wolves.” —Daniel Deitrich, “Hymn for the 81%” [of self-identified evangelical Christians who voted in 2016 for Donald Trump] Thanks Leroy.

Hymn of intercession. “Ooh, in this darkness / Please light my way / Light my way.” —Moby, “This Wild Darkness

Important pastoral wisdom. “You don’t have to agree with political opponents to understand where they’re coming from.” Sanne Blauw reviews Arlie Hochschild’s book, “Strangers in Their Own Land,” accounts of the author’s series of interviews, over five years, of people in deeply-conservative South Louisiana. The Correspondent

Can’t makes this sh*t up. Trump on peaceful transition if he loses: “Get rid of the ballots” and “there won’t be a transfer.” Allan Smith, NBC News

Call to the table. “The current chaos is designed to make you hopeless about creating change, so that you give up. To combat that, look away and recharge your batteries. Focus on the things that ground you: family, friends, pets, gardening, movies, books, biking, church . . . whatever works.  Just come back when you can. It’s going to be nuts from here on out.” —Heather Cox Richardson

The state of our disunion. “What Will You Do If Trump Doesn’t Leave?” According to research, “50% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe ‘the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.’ Nearly as many believe, ‘A time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands. . . . It’s time to start thinking about what you would do.’” David Brooks,” New York Times

Best one-liner. “When disturbing injustice looks like disturbing the peace, you can be sure you’re living in a society that has structuralized chaos and called it ‘peace.’” Rev. Preston Klegg, Baptist News Global

Altar call. “Study War,” by Moby.

Benediction. “Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve.” ―Howard Thurman

Recessional. “All my life I’ve been waiting for, I’ve been praying for / For the people to say / That we don’t wanna fight no more, there’ll be no more wars / And our children will play / One day (One day).” —“One Day,” a medley by The Shalva Band. (Thanks Candice.)

Just for fun. The moko jumbie stilt dancers of Trinidad and Tobago. Great Big Story (2:29 video. Thanks Marti.)

¶ POSTSCRIPT: What’s up with “Signs of the Times”?

Unless you’re a new reader, you likely noticed that my (almost) weekly “Signs of the Times” column (“news, views, notes, and quotes) took a long hiatus. An explanation is in order, especially to you who contribute.

Late last year I sent a note saying that, as my Nana used to say, “I’m all tuckered out.”

Shortly after that, my Mom’s health took a nosedive. She passed in February.

It hit me harder than I anticipated. . . .
—continue reading “What’s up with ‘Signs of the Times’?”

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