Widows, Victims and Veterans

On this Armistice / Veterans Day, our Gospel (Mark 12), tells of Jesus warning the people to beware of scribes who, for the sake of appearance, walk around in long robes and contribute large sums into the church treasury. Yet they are the ones who “devour widows’ houses”.  In contrast, Jesus remarks about the truly poor widow who contributed two copper coins, sacrificing all that she had.

Justin Meek, a member of California Lutheran University Choir, was a victim of last week’s mass shooting at the Borderline Café. Pastor Eric lifted this person up by playing a recording of this man about 1 year before the shooting singing “I Love You – Wonderful World” with his university’s choir. Justin sacrificed himself at the door to the café so others were saved. He is, in a sense, a veteran.

Ian Long, a 28-year-old military veteran, was the shooter. It was said he was suffering from “moral injury”, a term for veterans returning home with a complicated and contradictory mindset of right and wrong. Widows were part of society’s “least” in Jesus’ time. Maybe our veterans are now part of the least, when their needs are not noticed or being taken of?

So, as Pastor Eric asks, “How does it all work?” How do we carry out the peace-building that Jesus speaks about when we know that freedom has a cost? Pastor Eric’s examples show how easy it is sometimes to lose hope. Sad things do and will happen. But we need to continue to find small ways to lift others up, whether they be victims, veterans, or widows. We lift up Justin Meek by remembering his singing and his sacrifice. And we remember Ian Long who also sacrificed for others through his service, and then lost his way.

Love can happen in mere moments and in small ways.

Listen to the second service audio of the gospel, video, and sermon below.

Listen and watch the video recording of Justin Meek and the California Lutheran University Choir below. The young man with a beard and black shirt is Justin Meek, a victim of last week’s mass shooting. (Start the video with the arrow at its center, and then once its started, turn on the video’s audio by clicking the speaker in the lower right corner of the video.)