Service is the heritage we should celebrate

Published 11:33am Thursday, November 14, 2013

By Rev. Jonathan Yarboro

Greetings from the corner of Bridge and Bridge! It is my hope the blessings of Veterans Day are continuing for us all. The need for wisdom has never been greater and all of us need to seek it daily.

Last Sunday we recognized veterans as part of worship. My sermon included references to what, in my opinion, are some of the valuable lessons we learn from being in communion with veterans. Chief among those lessons, I proposed, is what it means to be alive when surrounded by death. Resurrection and redemption were the watchwords.

When worship ended and everyone was filing out, one of our veteran members shared his combat prayer. As a pilot during the Vietnam War, he regularly took the opportunity to pray before missions. His prayer was a simple one: “God, please allow me to do my job to the best of my ability.”

This comment and countless others like it explain the gratitude I feel towards veterans. Even though I never served in the military or witnessed military combat personally, I believe I have some insight into the power, both positive and negative, active duty during wartime presents. That power is paradoxical. It is redemptive and destructive, empowering and disabling, liberating and imprisoning, all at the same time.

As a nation, we have been lied to by our President and the White House. I find this disgusting. Unfortunately, the same thing has happened during the last three presidential administrations.

Presidents have lied about one thing or another. Their administrations and/or parties have defended them somewhat. Americans have had legitimate, documented reasons for distrusting the White House for more than two decades. That is the dark side of power.

No political party or political action group can claim sole responsibility. What has happened is that the foundation of our political system has shifted. For our first 200 years, our political system was more concerned with the light side of power, which is a by-product of service as first priority. Unfortunately, that has changed.

Lying for personal gain has become commonplace and acceptable in our society. Versions of the truth have taken precedent over the actual truth. The loudest voice, not the most authentic voice, has become the one that gets heard. People openly lie to better their situation with little regard for the collateral damage to the bigger picture.

This need not be our reality. It certainly is not our legacy. If you don’t believe me, just ask a veteran. Most any veteran will tell you that dedicated service to a greater good, not personal preservation, is what wins battles. I believe we as a nation have forgotten that.

The Executive and Legislative branches of our government have lost sight of their primary function: service. For reasons I do not fully understand, service has taken a backseat to the pursuit of power. Power is fueled by greed and self-preservation.

This path is not a good one for us; individually, nationally, or globally. I do not know how to encourage people who place service above all else to run for office. I don’t have access to the kind of money to buy any elections. The best I can do is vote for and support candidates who value service above all else in every way possible. So can you. Think about it.

 

The Rev. Jonathan Yarboro is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Wetumpka.

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