Because life is a series of edits


In Church, Holidays, Places & Spaces on May 29, 2007 at 8:22 am

Memorial Day with Russ

So, immediately after my pathetic post yesterday, we got our collective rear in gear and made it to the Memorial Day service at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. It was hot last year, but the weather was overcast for much of the morning this year, so that was nice.

Probably the highlight of the morning, though, was getting to see our friend, Russ Sloan (pictured with the girls and me above). Russ, 80, is part of our Memorial Church family and was in the Marines in World War II. He met his wife (who is buried at Jefferson Barracks as she was in the Army) at a Good Friday service at our church, which Russ has been a member of since before the war.

When we first came to Memorial, Russ was serving as a deacon (at 78). He’s been a really big fan of our family, and a personal encouragement to me in the different classes I’ve taught for Christian Education hour before church (he always joins my classes, even sitting in on the TwentySomeone series I did the first fall we were in St. Louis).

Russ has a great sense of humor (once, when I wore a suit to church to read Scripture for the service, he told me I looked like I was dressed for my own funeral), and Megan and I always enjoy seeing him around. Getting to take a picture with him in his military duds was fun for all of us (not that you can tell from the girls’ faces in the picture – the sun had come out in the middle of the service and they were feeling the mugginess).

Anyway, while the service was good, seeing and knowing Russ in the midst of it made it all the more meaningful yesterday, as it helped add some real humanity to the equation of freedom.

  1. you know freedom is just another word…

  2. True, Rob. To address where I think you might be going with this, I’m not trying to worship freedom as an entity, but rather appreciate it as a gift – secured by our military in this context, but given only by God.

    Growing up in the United States, I thought I understood the concept of freedom; after all, what other country in the world is as free as we are and enjoys the freedoms that we do?

    However, after reading Eugene Peterson’s Traveling Light: Modern Meditations on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians a couple years ago, I realized that even American freedom pales in comparison to the biblical definition of what is and is to be in Christ:

    “The matter of freedom is never in question. No one ever has too much freedom. Freedom must not be rationed. Freedom must not be retracted. Freedom continues at the center of Paul’s exposition of the nature of life in Christ. But freedom is not a thing in itself complete. It is an opportunity…the one act in which we can engage that avoids, on the one hand, straitjacketing freedom, and, on the other hand, goading freedom into anarchy – the danger of prim domestication, the danger of savage bestiality – is the act of love. It is the only other way. Freedom that is not expressed in love annihilates: ‘We must love one another, or die.’”

    All that to say, yes, freedom is just another word (and one we in the U.S. can use almost idolatrously), but when coupled with love (i.e. love from God, who is love), it doesn’t have to be a bad word. Ideally, that’s what I meant to represent. Feel free to let me know if/how I missed it the first time around (“second drafts” remember?).

  3. i was just singing the Janis Joplin song in my head, and thought i’d include it, you know
    “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
    Nothin’ don’t mean nothin’ hon’ if it ain’t free, no no
    And feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues
    You know, feelin’ good was good enough for me
    Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee”
    but since you’re philosifying, i’ll add my two cents worth
    freedom as a biblical principle and freedom as a political/philisophical ideal should not be tied together, you and Peterson are right to say that freedom without love misses the boat but i don’t need the freedom’s that this country affords to love as Christ did, in fact it seems that some of the freedoms that this country affords seems to work against my desire and ability to love well. do you see where i’m going with that,
    we leave thursday morning, have a good summer, see you in late aug

  4. Never got into Joplin (obviously), but I resonate with your thoughts here. Sorry I jumped to a wrong conclusion there; you were just rockin’ out on the wrong guy’s blog, I guess. Keep in touch from Seattle. May stop by Wednesday to try to see you.

  5. you don’t know joplin but your wife quotes dylan

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