Monday, June 07, 2004

My Sermon
Sixty years ago today men and boys from widely varying backgrounds, from countries around the world, from different faiths came together for vastly different reasons to put their lives on the line. They climbed cliffs, ran up beaches, and dropped from the sky, directly into unending machine gun fire. They entered gauntlets of almost certain death so that other men they had never met might gain their freedom.

Yesterday this country lost one of its greatest leaders. He was a man who stood upon the Berlin Wall, the symbol of decades of tyranny, and told the perpetrators of that tyranny to tear it down. He stared down a government who took too much from its own people and forced it to make do with a little less. He stood up for those who could not stand up for themselves.

This is a great weekend in American history because of what it represents, and what it reminds us. We are currently engaged in a worldwide struggle for our way of life, to defend our freedom from those who would exchange it for tyranny over us, who would have us live our lives the way they say instead of the way we choose. And we are involved in a more explicit battle in that greater struggle where we have already toppled the tyrants and we are now trying to hand the people left behind the reigns of their government.

What we need to recognize is that these three are inextricably linked. On D-Day we set people free. When the Berlin Wall came down we set people free. And in Iraq right now, we are setting people free. But why are we doing this?

I can't answer that question. Pure and simple, I cannot speak for the millions of Americans who were and are involved in each of these great efforts. But let me speak for some of them.

Presidents Reagan and Bush are very different men, but at their core, they are operating from a very basic set of beliefs -- those laid out in the Bible, those followed by Christians around the world. Bush has said several times that he believes liberty is the gift of God to all people and it is our responsibility to make sure it is available to each of them. Reagan believed that human beings are generally good, and all have some inner demons that struggle to overwhelm the good. He also believed that government was the greatest threat to humanity that exists in our age, and that it serves to strengthen the demons, while destroying the good -- the bigger the government, the less good can thrive. And this belief, this faith in humanity that flowed so strongly through this great man, was based on his faith in God. Both of these men represent the best vision for humanity, and it can only come through our expression of God's will.

That great event on June 6, 1944 occurred exactly because of these feelings. We let it get too far, but when it reached that point we snapped too and got done what needed to get done. We stood up, and did the hard duty that God demanded of us. Again and again throughout American, and Christian, history, wrong decisions have been made in the name of each. But those acts have been overshadowed by the great corrections that inevitably follow.

We would do well to remember throughout this week of mourning, and this week following the anniversary of that great day, that we can never bow down to tyranny, that it is our duty to fight it at every turn. President Reagan once said, "Freedom is not something to be secured in any one moment of time. We must struggle to preserve it every day. And freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." It is God's will that we remember this. And that we act on it.

I’ll close with another famous Reagan quote, one he used to end every speech and every letter he wrote: God bless you.

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