This Sunday is Veteran's Day. I've been trying to put myself in the shoes of ministers trying to deliver Veteran's Day sermons. I think it is difficult for a few reasons. First off, the common lectionary doesn't seem to have anything helpful. Also, I think it easy to conflate veterans with wars. The stories of wars in the Bible generally look at the conflict from a global perspective. The God of Israel willing the people of Israel to take possession of land, or fend off an enemy, or (following sinfulness) be taken away into exile.
But a person serving as a warrior doesn't touch the same themes as a nation making war. Being a member of the Armed Forces requires personal sacrifice and love of country. Another thing it requires is faith in others. When on thought about that aspect I remembered Matthew's story of Jesus calling the disciples.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.Matthew 4:18-22. When I accepted an NROTC scholarship, I honestly didn't give it much more thought than the disciples in this story. I did it for lots of reasons. It was an adventure. It paid for college. I had faith in my leaders. I thought it was a chance to make a difference. I suspect the disciples had similar feelings. And I think that is something worth celebrating.
It was also much more serious than I expected. I was never in harms way. I never had to worry about stoploss measures. But I did go without seeing my wife and child for six months in a stretch and the first time I returned from sea my 10 month old did not recognize me. Like the disciples, it is probably good that soldiers, sailors, airmen & marines don't know what they are getting themselves into.
We should salute the folks that continue to seek out adventure, to love their country, and to have faith in their leaders. It is all the more reason to hold our leaders accountable.