The Pictures on the Wall
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. (Matthew 26:6-7)
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. (Matthew 26:13)
“MEMORIAL" IS FOUND 32 TIMES IN THE KING JAMES BIBLE.times in the King James Bible. It is a good word. Some things ought to be remembered. Around the world, people have buried their dead and if they can afford it, have placed a stone memorial with the name, birth and death dates of the deceased. Is it too much that we fragile human beings might want to be accorded this tiny bit of significance…a stone with our name and date etched into the stone?
WHEN GRAVE MARKERS ARE VANDALIZED BY HOODLUMS, it raises the wrath among other human beings who do not know anyone in the cemetery. There’s something in us that recoils against anyone who lacks this tiny bit of respect for another human being.
THIS YEAR (JANUARY 2019) THE STATE OF WASHINGTON had a bill to be introduced that would legalize the composting of human bodies to be used as fertilizer for flowers or whatever the family might want to use it for. For whatever reason one might want to do this, it must be admitted that it is a step away from being remembered by any future generation. It runs away from the idea of human significance, even if it’s no more than a chisel mark on a stone. Is that too much recognition of human significance?
AT ODDS WITH THAT BIZARRE IDEA, INDIANA AND OHIO have recently passed laws requiring aborted babies to be buried or cremated. This is in keeping with the time-honored practice of burying human bodies as a matter of respect of the dignity of human life. “The sanctity of human life,” we call it. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Indiana law. If you want to read further, Google will help you find the details.
EVEN MORE STRUCTURED IS THE LONG-TIME PRACTICE of the American military respecting their own who are killed in battle. “No one left behind” has become part of a deep-seated commitment. Someone made a movie: “Saving Private Ryan,” a vivid display of this family-comradery principle. It runs through the nerve and psyche of the soldier. “We go in together and we come out together.” “Either we walk out, or we will be carried out on a stretcher.” Americans didn’t invent it. The Romans included it in the training of their soldiers, and they wrote it in Latin. It is a powerful tool in bonding soldiers together.
IN RECENT YEARS SOME WOUNDED AMERICAN SOLDIERS SAY THEY ARE MOTIVATED to heal their wounds so they can get back to their units to help them succeed and be safe. That’s what they say to news journalists. Some feel guilty because they survived an attack that killed some of their companions.
THE APOSTLE PAUL KNEW ABOUT THE ROMAN SOLDIER COMRADERY: Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (2Timothy 2:3-4)
MY CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES OF MINGLING WITH AMERICAN SOLDIERS during World War 2, were so strong that it shaped me for life. Gasoline and tires were rationed, so we traveled a lot on trains and buses that were often full of soldiers going home or coming from home or on their way to the battle zones. Homes that had a big star posted in a window had someone in service, and stars were everywhere. I worked in a drugstore as a soda-jerk because there was no one bigger to do it. There were no high school graduates around. It was 1943. Summer had arrived.
I COULD BARELY REACH THE COUNTER WITHOUT SPILLING COKE ON SOMEONE, so, in my 8th year I stood on my toes and stretched to reach the counter. In summer I could make $7.00 a week. I developed strong hands and wrists dipping ice cream. Mixed in with that were the telegrams. A few weeks earlier, in the Spring, my 3rd grade teacher’s fiance’ was missing in action and she was crying in class. Telegrams were dreaded.
THE DRUG STORE IN MOUNTAIN CITY, TN, WAS ALSO THE BUS STATION. Soldiers were coming and going. And then, one day, a Jeep with a tall radio aerial passed our door and parked up the street. Soldiers jumped out of the Jeep and took over directing traffic. In a couple of minutes, a long convoy of trucks carrying troops, artillery pieces and tanks began passing through and turning left at the traffic light.
THEY WERE FROM FORT BRAGG, NC AND WERE PRACTICING DRIVING THROUGH our Blue Ridge Mountain of narrow, winding roads before moving men and machines through the Black Forest of Germany. Of course, they must first go by ship to the beaches of Normandy and if they lived through it, they would go through the mountainous terrain in Germany. For several days, convoy after convoy came through our town. We were amazed and could only guess what it meant. This continued off and on for months.
FAST-FORWARD FIFTEEN YEARS and as a church pastor, I was working hard at visiting hospitals, homes, shut-ins and inviting people to church. In those days, a lot of wives and mothers were still at home. So, when I knocked on a front door, about half the time, someone would be home.
IN VISITING STRANGERS, YOU NEED SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT. I noticed that most people had pictures on the walls of their living rooms and maybe on a little table here and there. “Who is that in the picture?” People were eager to talk about their pictures and tell me all about the “picture people,” and where they lived…or where they were buried.
AMONG THE PICTURES was often a soldier in a military uniform, and sometimes several soldiers. Many of the men in uniform had made it home and were working. But, some of them didn’t make it home and the folks of that home needed someone to listen; to let them pour out their hearts.
SOME OF THE PICTURES ON THE WALL were very young men, 18-20 years old and had never married. Some had married and had left a wife and child, or children. Of course, in many homes the “soldier” pictures were not on display but carefully preserved in albums where they could be opened and shared on special occasions.
AS YEARS PASSED AND I CONTINUED TO VISIT HOMES, I noticed that the soldiers on the wall stayed there. They were still part of the family, though they had faded to the background. Sometimes a mother might say to me, “Susan is going to graduate from high school soon. Her daddy would have enjoyed seeing her graduate. Maybe he’ll be watching.”
THE PICTURES ON THE WALL BECAME PART OF THE CHURCH, part of the community. Today, 75 years later, some of those pictures are still on the wall. On Veteran’s Day or Decoration Day, churches encourage families to bring pictures for a display at church. Time is allotted to let everyone talk about their daddy, brother, grandpa. And, we all have seen the display that occurs on Face Book.
WE NOW HAVE ADDED PICTURES FROM MORE RECENT WARS, and from community tragedies, new types of heroes are emerging. We owe a lot to our veterans and to our law enforcement officers, firemen, and first responders who are now giving their lives to make America safe. “Jesus died for the saving of our souls. Many of our veterans have died to make us free.” “If you can read, thank a teacher. If you can read in English, thank an American soldier.”
Read Through the Bible in a Year
JUNE 7, 2019 – FRIDAY
A.M. 2Chronicles: 23-25 P.M. John 16:16-33
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Memory Verse This Month:
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Song for Today:
Battle Hymn of the Republic (5:18) – (The United States Army Field Band)(Written by Julia Ward Howe in 1862, in the midst of the Civil War.) She wrote the words and fitted them to the tune of “John Brown’s Body.” Originally written in a northern setting, it has become a national proclamation of the soul of the nation. In the Civil War, (1860-65) 622,000 lives were lost. WW2 (1941-45) took the lives of 291,000 American soldiers. Only recently has the total deaths of all other wars exceeded the deaths of the Civil War.
INCLUDED ARE THE WORDS: ”In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea, with a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me; as he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, as we go marching on.” This performance by The United States Army Field Band has been reviewed on You Tube 7,495,664 times.
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