A Thanksgiving Devotion
I was fortunate enough to have been the child of a World War II veteran, and I was fortunate enough to have family that served in Europe and the Pacific as part of their World War II service. The war re-shaped our world and realigned countries. The men and women who were part of that generation knew what it meant to come together, united with one voice, and accomplish something great. They went on after that conquering space, disease, attempting to fight hunger and poverty, and eventually ending the communist threat in the Cold War. In short, they made the US a great nation including devotion and faith to God as part of that greatness among their generation.
My experiences with my own father and others is that it was rarely talked about. When we went to Minnesota, my uncles and dad talked about life as it was at that moment and didn't reminisce about the war. Their behavior is what said that they literally fought for what they believed. At the big parade in Austin, Minnesota on the 4th of July, we stood every time a flag came by. We went to the Vet's club, as they called it (Veteran's of Foreign Wars), and they all greeted each other and enjoyed one another's company. Big band music filled the air as did laughter, cigarette smoke, and such. No talk of politics or the state of the world.
So, I have begun reading George Bush's biography and believe I now understand why that generation was the way they were. His comments, taken down and used by Jon Meachum (who has written about Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson), note the notion of service to country and duty that shaped that generation. From Bush's diary, notes after losing to Clinton reveal that inner-dialog that probably occupied those men's minds. Sad about losing, especially to Bill Clinton, Bush reflects: "I still feel that there is a disconnect....honor, duty, and country...it's just passe' (to Clinton's and the newer generation). The values are different now, the lifestyles, the accepted vulgarity, the manners, the view of what's patriotic and what's not, the concept of service. All these are in the hands of a new generation now, and I feel I have the comfort of knowing that I have upheld these values and I live and stand by them. I have the discomfort of knowing that they might be a little out of date."
So, Bush's inner-thoughts played out after a loss state the thoughts of a generation that saw life changing on them in 1992. 32 years before that, Bush's generation talked of the "torch passing" to a new generation (JFK's inaugural address). The institutions that had incubated those ideals in the 20th century had changed in those 30 years, including the church.
What ideals do we want for our own children and the next generation? How do we intentionally teach them? How do we live them? Paul writes, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:32 - 33) How are such concepts taught and lived?
I give thanks that I witnessed a generation that knew how to stand united to accomplish great things. I give thanks that I witnessed their service after the sacrifices they made in life and time. I am thankful that we, as Christian men, seek ideals to teach the next generation and hopefully reach beyond our own lifetime to other generations. At Thanksgiving, we have much to be thankful for, including our trials as believers. We give thanks to God that he has given us the abundance that we have and has met our needs in many ways. We pray we are content with what we have, and we pray that the foremost give we give thanks for is the gift of grace and love from Christ.
Hope Men's Ministry