|Commentary: War touches our family once more
simple Nativity set is a reminder of the yearning for the Prince of
Peace in this Advent and Christmas season. A UMNS file photo by Maile
A UMNS Commentary
By Rev. Harold Bales*
Dec. 10, 2009
It is Advent, the beginning of the traditional time of year when
Christians are reminded of the birth of Jesus and the biblical promise
of his Second Coming.
It is a time of anticipation for followers of Christ. Every year, this
blessed season arrives in a new context. Times change and our
challenges are always evolving. Some things are getting better for the
human family. Other things remain the same.
Sometimes the whole Earth seems to groan under the weight of profound human woes.
The Rev. Harold Bales
At a recent worship service, the following words were part of my prayer with the congregation:
“Again this year, as so often in the past, we pray to you, God, against
a backdrop of wars and conflicts in this world. Prince of Peace, Lord,
raise up and empower wise peacemakers. Grant, O God, that we will waste
no more human lives on the altar of human sin, arrogance, ambition and
pride. Make us learn to pour our resources into the advancement of
civilization rather than into the pockets of those who profit off
conflict and human misery.”
This is an especially poignant time for our family. Our oldest
grandson, John White, completes his U.S. Army basic training at Fort
Benning, Ga. He will spend a brief time in Germany. Then he will be
deployed to Afghanistan.
We now join those other families whose daily prayers will intensify immensely.
It is a relatively small group of Americans touched so directly by war
this Christmas. Most of us read the news with a generalized detachment
and a shrug: “It doesn’t much affect us.” But for we few who have loved
ones at risk, a different emotion applies.
Our family has a long history of military service to America, in every
war dating back to the Revolutionary War. In the Civil War, ours, like
many others, was a divided family. Most of our ancestors were in the
Union Army, but some served in the Confederate Army. One of our
grandfathers died in a Confederate prison camp.
When the nation called, our family has been quick to answer. We honor
the men and women from our family who have served and continue to
Still, I detest war.
A yellow ribbon around the altar candle at Hinesville (Ga.) First
United Methodist Church is a reminder that many loved ones will not be
at home this Advent. A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.
Those who cause wars to arise violate most of the Ten Commandments and
most of the principles of civilized behavior. So often the origins of
war are found in aggressive ambitions against neighbors. Greed and
covetousness power the conflicts. The urge to control others is a
motivating force. The list goes on and on: racial and cultural enmity,
national arrogance, religious pride, ignorance, bigotry, hate.
So, we yearn for the Prince of Peace in this Advent and Christmas
season to do his work in this world. We want no more families to suffer
the grief of the loss of a son or daughter to war. We want no more loss
of innocent people at the hands of murderous barbarians. We want all
people to sleep in safety. We want children to be healthy and well fed,
educated and happy. We want old people to be at ease in their final
years. We want justice and peace for everyone.
We love our John. He is dear to our hearts. We are proud of him. And we
pray for him and all others who follow a sense of duty into the service
of peace. We pray that God will protect them and that they will always
be on the side of what is right and just in this world.
*Bales writes a weekly column “The Southern-Fried Preacher” and is a
“semi-retired” minister of visitation at Trinity United Methodist
Church in Kannapolis, N.C. This commentary was published by the United
Methodist Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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