Today's Lectionary Text
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
Romans 14:8For if we live, we live to the Lord,
and if we die, we die to the Lord.
So then, whether we live or whether we die,
We are the Lord's.
I became attached to the first verse when I was newly out of seminary and was feeling the stress of serving my first church. During the mid ‘60s I became aware of the stress that many individuals and families were experiencing as we were increasingly drawn into the Vietnamese conflict. I used it as the theme of a county fair booth and brochure that I created to distribute during that occasion. It had a calming effect for me and hopefully for others as we dealt with the stresses of our everyday lives.
The second, which is from Paul’s letter to the Romans, grew out of my experience as an Air Force Chaplain. It was a difficult time in the late ‘60s and early 70’s when so many of our young adults were being drafted into the military. My peers and even my bishop were taking stands not only against the war, but against those of us who were associated with the military made up of our sons, daughters and husbands.
As an ROTC graduate at Washburn University of Topeka. I actually declined my commission as an officer upon graduation in order to attend St. Paul School of Theology. I felt the call to serve in the USAF as a chaplain nine years later not because I supported the war but because I felt our troops who were being called to serve in harms way deserved the support and encouragement of their churches and communities.
Even as a chaplain, I found myself in harms way many times finding encouragement from the fair booth theme and then in Paul’s words of assurance in his letter to the Romans. With this assurance, I found the courage to comfort our personnel and their families stateside before and following my tour of duty in Vietnam. In between, I visited our troops stationed on two bases and in countless outposts in South Vietnam. Even today, approaching the age of 85, I take comfort in these words in a divided nation where many appear to be choosing malicious falsehood, sedition and violence to achieve their questionable ends rather than rational dialogue and good will.
I long for a time when we shall be led by the Holy Spirit to love God with all of our heart, mind soul and strength as well as our neighbor as ourselves laboring as stewards of God’s creation, both it creatures and the earth.
John F. Richter, UMC Pastor, Retired
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