What’s wrong with me? My parents had every right to ask that question all the years I was in their home.
Not all my discipline problems were intentional. When I showed Lamar Daniels my Cub Scout fire-starting abilities in a nearby field, I didn’t know I was starting a two-alarm blaze. Or that the baseball I hit in the street would smash a neighbor’s car windshield.
But when I used my new Cub Scout pocketknife to dig holes in a neighbor’s hose, I knew that was wrong. When I melted crayons in my first grade teacher’s hair, I knew that was wrong. When I locked a girl in the coat locker over lunch in the fourth grade, and scattered chalk dust into the window air conditioner so that it coated the classroom, I knew that was wrong.
My parents were two of the most honest and moral people I’ve ever met. They raised me better than that. Why did I do these things?
Did the arsonists who started the California wildfires know what they did was wrong? Why did they do it?
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, an armistice ending hostilities with Germany went into effect. Its result was the eventual end of World War I. As a consequence, “Armistice Day” was observed each November 11. In 1954, following the end of World War II and the Korean conflict, legislation was signed changing this annual observance to Veterans Day.
Whereas Memorial Day honors those who died in the service of our country. Veterans Day honors the veterans of all American wars.
Nearly 2.7 million men and women are currently serving in the military or in the reserves. There are 23.7 million veterans living in America today. Each and every one deserves our gratitude on this day and every day. You were willing to serve and even to die so that we could live free.
On this Veterans Day, it seems especially appropriate that we consider our topic. Our Savior died at Calvary so that each of us could live free from spiritual slavery and guilt. We can celebrate total victory over temptation and sin this morning. We can be completely free from guilt and shame.
Thanksgiving was the first American holiday. A harvest feast was celebrated by Indians for centuries before Europeans first landed on these shores. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast which may have been the first Thanksgiving in the colonies. They had no forks, eating with spoons and knives and their hands.
Their first menu was somewhat different from yours last Thursday, I would presume. It included mostly meat: wild turkey, crane, duck, eagle, goose, seals and swans. Their seafood included clams, cod, eel, and lobster.
Their vegetables included beans, carrots, lettuce, onions, peas, pumpkins, and radishes. They had no ham, no sweet potatoes or potatoes of any kind, no corn on the cob, and no cranberry sauce. Worst of all, pumpkin pie had not yet been invented.
From then to now, we have much for which to be thankful. Consider the prosperity of just our generation. Per capita income in America since 1950, adjusted for inflation, has tripled. Global gross domestic product has increased seven-fold. I’m 49 years old; if you’re anywhere my age, think about the home in which you lived as a child. Now compare it to your home today.
We will begin in a rather strange way today. I need to ask you to stand to your feet, please. Now, would you please turn and face the back of the Sanctuary? Now, would you turn and face forward again? Now would you be seated? Why did you just do these strange things? Because of words. Because of the power of spoken words. Because words change the world.
They always have. Listen to these:
“The Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of the Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire…Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands…Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'”