‘Tis the Season

Pastor Rory Grooters

‘Tis the Season – November 14, 2011

Holidays have always bought with them a certain sense of celebration and reordering of family priorities. What are they all about? Why do we do what we do? This is a question which, when asked and honestly answered, can keep our stated purposes and priority in view.
Cindy and I recently went to Mitchell Airport to welcome home an Honor Flight. In case you haven’t been aware, the Honor Flight is an event which takes WW2 vets to Washington to visit the WW2 Memorial. Most have never been there before and none come back unchanged. These are men and women who had answered the call to duty of a nation at war. Many of whom bear the scars of untold horrors. Why did we go? Why give up 5 hours on a Saturday night? Why stand in a crowd of thousands of strangers to greet men and women with whom we had no personal connection that we knew of? Gratitude!
It is impossible to put into words what transpired that night. Words like “awesome”, “inspiring”, “incredible” are so inadequate to relay the flood of emotion, pride and patriotism we, together, experienced. With each man or woman escorted through the throngs of welcomers came a deep personal sense of the reality of what they had been committed to. We were and are grateful to the men and women who set aside their personal dreams and aspirations to go halfway around the world to face an enemy which threatened this and future generations. God help us if we ever lose sight of sacrifices others have made and continue to make so that we can enjoy the liberties we do.
A tremendous sense of responsibility welled up within my heart to ensure the next generation is able to live free and appreciate those who have blazed the trail for us. My cheeks flushed hot with embarrassment as I caught myself thinking about my sore feet. How could I complain?? It was humbling to realize as we waited for hours, that these men and women suffered through much worse for us.
Our experience with the Honor Flight could be summed up in one simple yet profound exchange Cindy had amid the deafening cheers. Through all the commotion, catching the eye of one lone, wheelchair bond vet, Cindy spoke the unheard words “Thank you,” in return, the gentle, unmistakable response, “You’re welcome,” spoken with words and a dedicated salute. We were ill prepared for the range of emotion which flooded our hearts that night. Gratitude, appreciation and awe came flooding over our souls in waves as the realization of unspoken sacrifices slammed against the complacency of comfortable lives. We walked away humbled. Yes, Tis the season… to be Thankful!
This Thanksgiving will be more poignant having gone to greet those on the Honor Flight. I am grateful to those who sacrificed all so we could be free. I am so grateful to our Savior, who gave all so we could be set free from the shackles of sin and enjoy new life with Him. I am thankful for His generous provision over this past year. His blessings never seem to cease. Let us not rush into the Christmas season without taking time to express our appreciation to the One who has made it possible.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “… give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Gratitude springs from a humble heart. May you always guard your humble, grateful heart. May you experience all the joys of a blessed Thanksgiving!

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