Sunday Reflection: Many of the nation’s veterans are in desperate need of community, and the church should welcome and help them, says a Navy chaplain.
Marines and sailors who have killed people in battle struggle with their feelings. These stories are not easy to hear.
Not every congregation has the resources or a calling to work with veterans. But as a Christian community, we need to be there for those veterans seeking us. We need to find ways to connect with this group, which is in desperate need of community.
One important service congregations can provide for these men and women is to offer a sacred space where they can talk openly about their conflicted emotions — even when it makes those around them uncomfortable.
Discomfort is scary and difficult. But discomfort allows the space for grace to enter into someone’s life. Churches can play this role. Let veterans and active-duty military members tell their stories in a place where they know they will be loved and accepted. Some will want to repent for war; some will not be seeking forgiveness at all. You may not agree with their actions or choices, but you can help them deal with what they have experienced.
Perhaps the most important thing a congregation can offer veterans is a renewed sense of community. Those who have served know what it means to have a group of people that cares about them — and how a caring community can help them overcome almost any burden.
Not every congregation will sense a call to minister to veterans. However, if we truly seek to embrace the message of the gospel and show grace, we must find ways to extend that grace to every person we encounter, including veterans.
(Russ Ferguson: Making space for veterans)
Christian wisdom is nurtured over the course of time in institutions that act as bearers of tradition, laboratories for learning and incubators of leadership, says L. Gregory Jones.