What we probably don’t realize when we pour honey out of a sixteen-ounce jar and enjoy its rich flavors and taste is that it only exists because tens of thousands of bees flew some 112.000 miles in relentless pursuit of nectar gathered from some 4.5 million flowers. Flying themselves to death, each of these bees crossed about 500 miles during their short lifespan of a few weeks just to get the nectar to the hive. Once there, it requires tens of thousands of bees laboring for countless hours to purify and transform it into honey.
Like honey, so much of all the sweetness and blessings in this country are only here because of the struggle, fight, and persuasion of countless individuals who selflessly carved out and shaped the liberties, freedom, democratic institutions, the very safety, and security our families enjoy and rely on every day. Our veterans who stepped up to serve our country are brilliant examples of this. On November 11, the world paused to pay tribute to our veterans, to acknowledge their service and dedication. Today, gathered in our sanctuary, we honor all veterans, especially those of our community, and also remember those who have fallen asleep in the Lord.
Being a veteran requires determination, discipline and faith in the greater good of humanity. It requires an ability to see and recognize a greater world than our own needs, desires and hopes. It requires willingness and willpower to serve and sacrifice to make the world a better place for everyone else. To serve, love sacrificially and selflessly, extend help when needed, and stand by justice and truth… aren’t these what we, as Christians, are called to do and live by?
The Holy Gospels, through countless stories and parables, remind us over and over about the importance of serving, helping, and becoming a healing presence for people around us. The parable of the Good Samaritan, the rich man who acquired what he needed to do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and was told that to be perfect, he would need to sell his belongings, to give it all to the poor, are all reminders about the importance to serve and stand by the helpless, the poor and ignored.
We find this very same message about the importance of serving in the Gospel reading for this Sunday. When the misguided disciples were arguing about who among them would be greatest in heaven, Jesus brought forth a child and told them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me” (Luke 9:48). Why a child? And how welcoming a child, we welcome him? A child is someone who can not repay us, who has no social influence or impact we would benefit from by helping them. Therefore, accepting, welcoming, and helping a child, in this case, is the same as helping someone without any expectation of any reward or recognition. May the Lord bless our veterans and grant us a spirit and desire of selfless service and sacrificial love.