I was preaching a series of sermons in a small town, and on one of the days an elderly gentleman came up to me during lunch. He said, “I know what it is to be frightened.”
Some of you will be reading these words before, some during and several after Thanksgiving Day (like the old British Empire, the sun never sets on this column.) So, we need to set some ground rules: Let’s remember to express our thanks on days other than when our mouths are stuffed with turkey parts.The problem is that we usually don’t do so on the other 364 days a year (OK, 365 on a leap year. Some of you can be so picky) because we are too busy complaining about the weather, politics, our aches and pains, robocalls, inconsiderate drivers and/or the price of something or other.
Two months after her heroic husband was killed on United Flight 93, Lisa Beamer was asked to say a few words at a Women of Faith Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You remember that Lisa was the 32-year-old widow of Todd Beamer, who was one of those killed trying to overcome the terrorists on September 11, 2001.
This past Christmas Eve, we had just returned from a candlelight church service back to the Peabody Hotel in Memphis to have dinner at the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Cappacio’s.
So often we Americans celebrate the Fourth of July with hot dogs, hamburgers, pizzas, homemade ice cream and family get-togethers. We hear speeches or read articles with some mention of liberty, justice and the American way. We watch or participate in such things as road races or other special contests.
Loving America does not mean that we ignore her faults, past or present. It does not mean that we are unaware of her inequalities or injustices that must be challenged and changed.
When we were growing up, my cousin Lynn and I were weekend and summertime warriors, fighting side-by-side through childhood journeys and teenage wonders.
I am glad I was in Africa while my brothers and sisters in the once united Methodist Church were cutting one another to shreds at the recent general conference in St. Louis. I am glad that I only caught glimpses of the terrible things that people representing Jesus Christ were saying about one another in the name of love and unity.
For sure, we are a nation under stress. We are a tension-ridden people who take aspirin for our headaches, tranquilizers for our nerves and sleeping pills to make us sleep. And so much of this “medicine” is being taken to alleviate tension or stress.