"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." -John 15:13
This past summer I began a new chapter in my life: I became a reserve military chaplain, specifically, a Navy Chaplain. The US Navy Chaplain Corps has been around since the Continental Congress formed it in 1775 to minister to the needs of those serving their country. Navy Chaplains serve not only the Navy, but the Marines and Coast Guard, as well. Why am I telling you this? Because of what I have seen in just my few months as a Naval Officer.
I have been assigned to work specifically with the 1st Division of the 1st Marines Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton. The men and women I speak with, hump (hike) with, ride with, fly with, eat with, and so on, are not Marines because they wish to be war mongers. For the most part, these are kids right out of high school, the same age as the students I walk around the CLU campus with. These young folk are saddled with the responsibility of firearms and hand grenades and tanks and humvees -- and the responsibility of knowing when and when not to use them. One cannot honestly look at the Marine Corps and say that they are about love and peace. But I can look at the individuals who comprise that group and see that for many of them, that is what they are personally about. These Marines joined up not to kill, but to be part of something worthwhile. When I speak with them, they are not about the war on terror, earning medals, blowing up Iraq. They are about each other. When on a hump (hike), if one starts to fall back, their whole team will rally around that person, push them on, not leaving them behind. It is shocking to me that when thinking of what the popular culture sells as "The Marines" --how I thought of the Marines -- how off base I was. It is truly amazing how compassionate and gentle they are with each other. I look at these young men and women and know without any question that they would die for the sake of those around them without a second's hesitation. Greater love has no one than this.
Whether you agree or disagree with "The War on Terrorism", whether you are Democrat or Republican, whether you served in the armed forces or protested the armed forces, whether you are a pacifist or a card-carrying member of the NRA, it makes no difference -- Christ calls us to be about two things alone: God and each other. As disciples of Jesus we have but one example to follow. As apprentices to the Word-made-flesh, we have but one voice to heed. He came down that we might have love and have peace -- who are we to offer anything different to those around us?
AND WE PRAY: Lord God, we pray for all of those who put themselves in harm's way for the sake of others, like our military, our fire departments, and our police. Grant them safety, grant them wisdom in judgment, grant them peace -- true peace. Let all the people of the world become instruments of your love and peace. Start with us.