Yesterday was a solemn day for our country. Rightly so, the anniversary of 9/11 should be a time of reflection and remembrance. And service.
A few weeks ago our church launched a growth group for SEAL trainees down at the Naval base in Coronado. A friend of mine with a passion for ministry is currently going through SEAL training, and has a great heart for leadership. A while back I asked my friend how NVC could serve the SEAL trainees, and one of his responses (aside from massive amounts of prayer) was to provide some home cooked meals for the guys in training.
Fast forward to yesterday, and our latest NVC service project. Divided over three host homes, we had nine different families prepare some great meals that would rival any thanksgiving feast. A dozen SEAL trainees made their way up to the different host homes where they were greeted by people grateful to serve those who choose to serve our country. It was an awesome afternoon. Young men shared their stories (what they could) of training, while mounds of home cooked pasta and dessert were served. We laughed, we watched football, we enjoyed the company of others.
One of our 8th graders made a flag cake.
A few of the guys crashed on couches.
Several guys simply enjoyed chatting with someone new.
Everyone went home full.
And the more I think about it, the more I really love that all of this worked out to happen on 9/11. What better way to commemorate such a tragic event by turning it into a source for joy. To be honest, that’s what stands out the most for me as I think back to that day, and the weeks afterwards. Seeing such a tragedy bring out the very best in humanity is what I remember. People serving others, public prayers, respect for your fellow man, especially those who sacrifice so much for others. This doesn’t take away from the solemn heart that our nation still bears, but it does speak to the glory of God. The God who was, and is, and is to come.
This afternoon I was catching up with mi madre, telling her about the lunches yesterday. When I told her about the guys crashing on the couch after a great meal she told me a great story about my dad.
When my dad was a bachelor in the Marines, he used to drive the Joy Bus for his church. This allowed him the opportunity to get invited to many homes for lunch. Mi madre chuckled while talking about how many couches had provided Sunday afternoon naps for dad. After they got married, dad told mi madre that there would never be any way that he could repay all of those people for their kindness. He said that our home should always be open for anyone in the military that needed a home cooked meal and a couch to crash on.
I remember many instances where that was the case. And looking back, I’m realizing more and more that our call to serve isn’t just for the benefit for those that receive, but those who serve as well.
One of the blessings that comes from tragedy is the reminder of what is truly important. It allows us to focus, to see things in a clear light. The excess is cleared away and we are reminded of the few things that matter.
Jesus summed up all of the laws in two simple commands. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Those commands have never changed. Wether our buildings stand or fall, there will always be a reason to worship God. Wether we are united or not, there will always be neighbors to love.
And there will always be sailors, soldiers and marines in need of a couch and a home cooked meal.
May God bless all of those who were hurting yesterday. And may God bless those who have freely decided to serve our country.