Photo: Staten Island Advance/Jason Paderon
Word from the Pastor:
Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the peoples under me. O Lord, what are human beings that you regard them, or mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a passing shadow.
Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;
Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.
Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.
Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou.
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.
Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.
We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.
Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,
But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.
—“In Memoriam A.H.H.,” stanza I, Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Psalm 144 and the opening stanza from Tennyson’s poem, “In Memoriam,” are both anchored in a trust of God alone, especially in light of the human reality of death. Both celebrate human realities like fellowship, joy, love, community, sorrow, and loss. Both know that apart from the divine promises, human affairs amount to little.
As we all get ready to celebrate Memorial Day this year, let’s take time to remember two things. One, we celebrate and give thanks for the men and women, past and present, who gave their lives in service to their country. They loved us well. Thanks be to God. Two, we celebrate their lives and sacrifice in light of the greater light of God’s love. Their sacrifice reflects the depths of God’s gift of presence and love in the Son, and for that we give profound thanks. We also pray that despite the seemingly necessary folly of human war, God’s redeeming purposes “help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.” It is faith that transforms sacrifice and loss into new creation.