There’s an old song that has been sung predominately in African American churches entitled, “I’m a soldier in the Army of the Lord.”
It’s a peppy tune and one that I have played many times as I accompanied, on the organ, some choirs in years gone by.
The song is sung with great emotion and as the voices blend together, with hands clapping, it just puts one in a mood of certain joy and elation to think that we are all a part of this contingency of people who believe in a common cause for God – and that means spreading good news to as many as we can.
We have sung the hymn many times, “Onward Christian Soldiers.” The more contemporary worship services may never sing this hymn, but it is important to understand that all Christians are in warfare with the enemy of their soul.
With the growth of other religions, Christianity is under fire just as it always has been. The difference is we have access to instant communication and we hear about the atrocities against our Christian brothers and sisters much more quickly.
A few weeks ago, I viewed a video where a priest and some other Christians were led into the open area, and there the leader read the charges and the executioner stood behind the priest. At a certain point in the reading of the charges, the executioner took his foot and pushed the kneeling priest to the ground. The video provider blacked out the screen just before the executioner lowered the weapon of his choice to kill the priest.
This did not happen hundreds of years ago, it happened just a few weeks ago. On another occasion, a group of radical Islamic militants entered a monastery and as the priest was trying to talk to the group, they opened gunfire and killed the priest.
We are not just in battle in our world of nations, but we are in a spiritual battle, and many Christian veterans have gone to meet the Lord due to certain conflicts of fighting a spiritual battle such as the two priests I have mentioned.
On the other hand, we have a tribute to pay to our veterans who have fought in battle, or have had other jobs to protect our nation so we may have religious freedom among the freedoms we enjoy.
My granddad, Forrest Pash, served in the 37th Division of the U.S. Army during World War II. His unit was in the Pacific war zone for more than three years. When he returned home he struggled with what we now called PTSD. Back then he called it shell shock.
My grandmother told me that many times they would be walking down the street and a vehicle would backfire which would send Forrest into a survival mode as he searched for a hiding place.
As we celebrate Veterans Day this coming Monday, be sure to thank a vet for his or her service to this great nation. With the ever changing policies coming out of Washington, D.C. these days, let’s pray for our military.
If you remember the Vietnam War, then you remember our soldiers were not treated well by Americans as they returned to America. Many were spit upon and some very unkind things were said. To our Vietnam vets, THANK YOU for serving. I remember that era well.
To all our veterans of all the wars and conflicts of the yesteryears through our current times, God bless you for serving and God Bless the United States of America.
The Most Rev. Michael Layne, PhD, ThD, can be reached at 812-614-2160 or at www.doclayne.com. You are invited to come by The Fine Grind at 120 E Washington St on Wednesdays at 6:30 for a study time with Dr. Layne.