Saturday after Epiphany, January 9
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
“‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Earl and Pat, Patriotic Parishioners
They were from Bethlehem, not the little town, but from the home of Bethlehem Steel. Before a bunch of politicians of both major parties sold out the working people of this country to China and other globalist sources of political payola, Bethlehem Steel was an economic powerhouse. In the postwar years, this country was known for high-quality materials and goods. A family with two spouses and several kids could live off of one salary. When the kids got into school, Mom would go back to work and build up the kids’ college funds. Those were muscular patriotic days before the left sowed seeds of distrust and self-hatred and both left and right forgot about ordinary working folks. So many lies told. More of the same is coming.
Earl and Pat were born and raised in Bethlehem in the good years before the mills were closed and repurposed. Earl was an excellent flutist and played in the Army band during World War II. When his eyesight was failing and he was suffering with a debilitating illness, Earl would often talk with misty eyes about playing the wonderful piccolo part in the Stars and Stripes Forever March. In the postwar years of raising a family, Earl went to work in business but kept up his playing gigs with area musical groups. When you have played Sousa marches, there is always a stirring of the blood at the first note. Sousa wrote for military bands, and patriotism and Sousa go together. Earl lost the ability to play but not the love.
Every national holiday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Earl and Pat could be expected to proudly wear the red, white, and blue. Earl was proud to stand to be recognized with the other veterans in our congregation. Pat always looked upon her good man with pride. They were five and seven years younger than my mother and much younger than my father, but I knew their kind well.
Like so many more today, Earl and Pat were in the first wave of northern retirees to Hampstead. They loved their home there and drove in to St. Matthew’s their new church home until their health grew frailer. Then, it was sell the house and move into a patio home. They were all in for the music program and when they died months apart in 2011 and 2012, they designated memorials be made to St. Matthew’s Music Ministry. It’s hard for me to believe they have been physically absent from our midst for so many years.
I became a political independent a number of years ago, because the left no longer represents the real little guys and too many on the right are greedy globalists. Both are willing to sell out the unborn for different reasons but with the same ethical bankruptcy of Nazis lying in their dying souls. Too many today go into politics to make a buck and along the way sell their souls to the devil for thirty pieces of silver. Corrupt media, bloviating academics, and high-tech Judases are killing this country where we live.
It is true that here we have no continuing city. This life is not our home. We are citizens of another commonwealth, but this is where God has placed us to love and serve our neighbors and, yes, this land. It is time for the pendulum to swing and for a new generation of patriots to rise up without apology for loving their country and serving their neighbors near and far through daily life and work. Perhaps, there will be a constitutional convention where the founders’ vision is restored with smaller government, term limits, outlawing all but publically funded, brief, political campaigns, and very strict rules for media and lobbyists.
I am a romantic who believes that movies like Casablanca and It’s a Wonderful Life remind us that love of neighbor calls for sacrifice, yes, but love of neighbor never calls us to sacrifice the neighbor for our own selfish interests. God has placed us here to serve the neighbor. Patriotism is not antithetical to the Christian faith, nor does Christ call us to wrap the cross of Christ in the American flag. Lutherans know this, because there is the kingdom of the left hand, where God works through the Law to reward good, punish evil, and protect all our neighbors, and there is the kingdom of the right hand, where God works through the Gospel to bring forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation in Christ Jesus.
Father, thank you for Earl and Pat and all the patriots who have loved this country where you have placed us and called us to be good stewards of her resources for the sake of our neighbors. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.
Place forty-two pennies, nickels, or dimes into a bowl or box out of love for neighbors in need
Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS
St Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.