On many occasions I have been asked where I got my interest in caring for the veterans. I wish I could say for certain what the reason was. I’m not sure, actually. I do have my suspicions and a true story to tell: My grandmother was a loving, faithful woman who brought up a family during the Depression. My grandfather was away a lot building highways way up north, which left my grandmother alone most of the time to care for 13 children. She often got help, as they were able from those who were older, but no matter how you looked at it, these were tough times. On Sundays she made sure that the family got to church and was proud of the fact that all 13 children were baptized. Church was were she got her strength. She carried this with her throughout her life and passed it on to her children. Community was different back then compared to now. Families lived close and there was always a gathering around the table. The table may have been a kitchen table or a dining room table but often it was in a fellowship hall around a church table. This is the place that potlucks were held, stories where told and things were made. The men often gathered and made plans to help the neighbor down the road who needed a helping hand. The women had their circles and friends who gathered to crochet or knit or make quilts.
Have you ever noticed the different ways one gathers strength to endure those struggles that pop up in life? It may be the quiet of a starry night. It may the freshness of the air in the fall as you hear a breeze gently blowing through the leaves. It may be the presence one feels as they read a book, listen to music or contemplate a piece of art. It may be the rippling of the water as the children play close by. I do these things, but the most important thing that I do to find that inner strength, the energy, the peace to do the thing that I do, is to connect with other people. I have a true story to tell.
Last month I explained to you about the Veterans Ministry and some of the things that I would be writing about. The following is one of the first calls I received on behalf of this initiative. I think you might be surprised at what the outcome was....
Memorial Day weekend, Pentecost Sunday I was given the honor of announcing the initiation of the Veterans Ministry and First Lutheran’s partnership with Wesleyan Methodist Church in La Crosse. In attempting to demonstrate the connection we all have with veterans, I asked the congregation to stand if they were a veteran, a spouse of a veteran, related to a veteran, were a friend of a veteran or knew a veteran. As I looked out upon them all, almost the entire congregation was standing. “Look around you.” I said. “Whether this is our church or a national stadium somewhere, the result would be the same…"