You’ve heard it said that all politics are local. I would go one further. I contend all events in life are personal.
I’m in the middle of reading the book, “The Greatest U.S. Army Stories Ever Told.” It’s fascinating because the stories are the first-hand accounts of active participants. Louisa May Alcott, a well-known writer of the 1800’s, volunteered in a field hospital during the Civil War. Her skills as a writer, combined with her experience at the Battle of Fredericksburg, produced the most vivid description I’ve ever read of the human suffering and personal courage demonstrated in that war.
Other first-hand accounts include the memoirs of a revolutionary soldier who crossed the frigid Potomac River with Washington in his daring Christmas raid against the enemy at Trenton. Ulysses S. Grant recounts his version of the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, and the first hand description of George Custer’s defeat at Little Big Horn is recalled by the Indian Chieftains who led the attack.
Every story is personal. This is especially evident in the description of D-Day as told by war correspondents Andy Rooney and Ernie Pyle, writers for the Stars And Stripes during WWII. Pyle’s good friend, John Steinbeck described it this way,
“There are really two wars and they haven’t got much to do with each other. There is the war of maps, and logistics, of campaigns and ballistics, armies, divisions and regiments - that that is General Marshall’s war. Then there is the war of the homesick, weary, funny, violent, common men who washed their socks in helmets, complained about the food, whistled at Arab girls, or any girls for that matter, and bring themselves through as dirty a business as the world has ever seen and do it with humor and dignity and courage – and that is Pyle’s war.”
It was the same for Rooney who told the folks back home about D-Day from the perspective of the G.I. As he explained,
“No one can tell the whole story of D-Day because no one knows it. Each of the 60,000 men who waded ashore that day knew a little part of that story too well. To them the landing looked like a catastrophe. Each one knew a friend shot through the throat, shot through the knee. Each knew the names of five hanging dead on the barbed wire in the water twenty yards off shore, three who lay dead unattended on the stony beach as the blood drained from holes in their bodies… Across the Channel in Allied headquarters in England, the war directors, remote from the details of the tragedy, were exultant. They say no blood, no dead, no dying. From the statisticians’ point of view, the invasion was a great success.”
Rooney wrote a poem the day he came ashore, foretelling how the reality of the real war would be lost over time.
“Here,” the battleground guide will say when the tourists come,
“They fought the bloody battle for the beach.”
They will talk with pointers in their hands
To a bus-load of people
About events that never happened
In a place they never were
How would anyone know that John Lacey died
In that clump of weeds by the wagon path
As he looked to the left towards Simpson…
And caught a bullet behind the ear?
And if there had been a picture of it
It would show the snapshot in his breast pocket
Of his girl friend with his mom and dad
Every story is personal. Our story is personal too, but most of us are not attentive enough to notice.
It is the nature of life to distract and delude people to believe life is about deadlines, tasks, to-do lists, commitments, possessions and paychecks. But it’s not. Your life, like mine, is a beautiful dance of interaction. The details of life are only the strings that link us together. The places we go and the things we do are only the venues where human interaction takes place. Every accomplishment, every tragedy, every challenge is an opportunity to share, to encourage, and to save.
No wonder the Bible includes entire chapters which at first glance seem a waste of Divine inspiration. Why did God think we needed to know the name of Epaenetus, the first convert to Christ in Asia, or the two dozen other names the apostle Paul mentioned in Romans 16? What good is there in knowing such names, except fodder for a quiz in Biblical trivia? What possessed Paul to tell us that a house church met in the home of Nympha, or that Epapharas was diligent in prayer for the Christians at Colossae and Ladodicea? How does such information or his descriptions of the others mentioned in Colossians 4, advance the kingdom of God? But God thought it was important and it must be because their names have survived from the first century until now.
Every story is personal. God is urging us to increase our awareness of the people around us. Your colleagues at work, your neighbors, your mail lady, fellow Christians and they guy who mows his lawn on Sunday mornings two doors down. Jesus died for all of them.
God did not so love good theology that He sent His only begotten son into the world to die on a cross between two thieves. He so loved people. People matter to God and they should matter to us. God has not given us people to get work done; He has given us work to get people done. Can you name the people in your life who stand outside of saving faith in Jesus? Should you know their names? How might your interaction be used by God bring them to the knowledge of salvation?
See you in church this weekend.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6
- Name two people (other than family) who have been influential in your life.
- What are some things you can do to improve your ability to remember people’s names?
- What are some ways you could better share your faith with those in your sphere of influence?
How have major life events affected you?
A. Made you stronger
B. Helped you relate to others
C. Caused bitterness and anger
D. Made you less trusting
Click here to take the survey and take a moment to leave a thought or opinion.
If you were unable to attend services last weekend and would like to listen to the message, visit our homepage at www.stjstl.net and click on Media at the top right of the web page. Growing Deeper, a Bible study, written to accompany the message series is also available to download.
St. John Church is now live streaming Sunday service at 9:15am and 11:00am. Join us!
Dear heavenly Father, enter my heart and increase my courage to more openly share my faith-perspective with others in my sphere of influence. Give me wisdom beyond my experience to guide my words and demeanor. Keep me from displaying a judgmental spirit. Open my ears to listen so I might respect differing points of views while not compromising or denying my faith and Your divine truth. Remove all doubt, fear and insecurities that keep me from sharing the good news of salvation and Your love for all people. Help me to be gracious and eager to affirm, comfort and help others. Help me to see how blessed I am in life so that I might be a blessing to others. All this I pray through the mercy of Jesus, my Savior; Amen.
Click on the links below to learn more about what's going on at St. John!
- Tickets for Silhouettes of Christmas are on sale now.
All the details and the ability to buy your tickets online are here.
- LIVE the 6 during the Christmas Season. Opportunities to help our neighbors and community partners are available. Find out more and have a chance to sign up to help out!
- The Pruitt-Igoe Myth is the third and final film in our And…ACTion! Documentary Series. Join us for the screening and learn how you can make a difference in St. Louis next Thursday, November 21, at 6:30pm in Cornerstone Youth Center.
- Want to serve in our community this holiday season? All the information is here.
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)
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