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Memorial Day, Unity of rehoboth Beach, May 24, 2015

Good Morning Beloved!

A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

The engineer fumed, “What’s with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!”

The doctor chimed in, “I don’t know, but I’ve never seen such inept golf!”

The priest said, “Here comes the green-keeper. Let’s have a word with him.”

He said, “Hello George, what’s wrong with that group ahead of us? They’re rather slow, aren’t they?”

The green-keeper replied, “Oh, yes. That’s a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.”

The group fell silent for a moment.

The priest said, “That’s so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.”

The doctor said, “Good idea. I’m going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there’s anything he can do for them.”

The engineer said, “Why can’t they play at night?”

Memorial Day

Did you know there is a World War II connection to Unity’s Prayer for Protection?

Here’s the story about how Eric Butterworth wrote it.

When World War II was raging in Europe, Unity received many letters and phone calls from people caught in the conflict, but for a long time they did not have a prayer for protection that they were all satisfied with.

Silent Unity came to Eric and asked him to write a protection pamphlet that Unity could send to people. … They told him they wanted affirmative prayers for protection on the back page. Among these was the verse from the 23rd Psalm: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me”.

One of the young women who worked in Silent Unity was reading Eric‘s manuscript draft, and as she finished it, she said to him: “Jim, if I were a woman in England and they were dropping bombs on my roof, or if I were a soldier and someone was pointing a loaded gun at me, I wouldn’t want to feel like I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Can’t you do better than that?”

He says he thought, ‘You want me to do better than the 23rd Psalm? You have to be out of your mind.’ But rolling around in the back of his mind was the little verse he had written as a prayer for protection at Christmas. He had written it just for Silent Unity, but now, he said, ‘it came rolling up to the front of my mind and demanded that I pay attention to it. It enticed me to see what I could make of it.’

So that little Christmas prayer became:

“The light of God surrounds me,

The love of God enfolds me,

The power of God protects me,

The presence of God watches over me.”

That is the way it was first printed. Then, he says, a line came to me that I felt would make the prayer even more powerful. The line was:

“Wherever I am, God is.”

And after that, many Unity’s added “And wherever God is, all is well.”

And that little prayer has been all over the world and to the moon! It comes in handy in many circumstances. And whether it is said silently or out loud; whether for yourself or another; it is powerful. I suggest it often to others and say it even more often, I think!

We spoke of the power of our words last week. Think about that power when we say this little prayer each Sunday at the conclusion of our Service. When we place feeling behind our thoughts, it helps in the manifestation.

I think it is very appropriate that we remember the Prayer for Protection this holiday weekend. After all, we are remembering those men and women who protect our freedoms this weekend.

Isn’t it wonderful that Unity has a Prayer to protect these men and women as they protect us? And that protects ourselves!

Every Memorial Day weekend, we honor those who dedicate their lives to the service and the protection of our country and the people in it. And they do this in so many ways.

From the service men and women in the distant and not so distant lands to those who serve right around the corners of our little towns, we are so very Blessed to have the men and women who protect and take care of us.

In Ezekiel 22:30; the profit Ezekiel writes that God is looking for someone who will stand up for what is right and be the hero that is needed.

It says: “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land….”

Would those of you who stood in the gap please stand so we can proudly acknowledge your service?

And we thank you!

 

We have many examples of those who have stood ‘in the gap.’ One was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the Lexington, he saw a squadron of Japanese aircraft speeding their way toward the American fleet.

With the American fighters gone on a mission the fleet was defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. The wing-mounted guns blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter plane limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival he reported in and related the event surrounding his return.

The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had in fact destroyed five enemy aircraft.

This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later he was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this wonderful man.

Just like for Mother’s Day we again have the history of one of our holidays starting during the Civil War era. The custom of placing flowers on the graves of the war veteran’s began on May 5, 1866, in Waterloo, NY, and Waterloo has been recognized by Congress as the official birthplace of Memorial Day, though then it was ‘Declaration Day.’ In 1868, Gen. John A. Logan, then president of the Grand Army of the Republic, declared that May 30 would be a day to decorate with “flowers the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”

After World War I the day was set aside to honor the service men and women of all American wars, and the custom was extended to pay homage to deceased relatives and friends, both military and civilian. The most solemn ceremony conducted on Memorial Day is the placing of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns located in Arlington National Cemetery.

Did you know that the American Flag is to fly at half-staff the first half of the day to honor the war dead and then full staff for the second part of the day to honor the living? And, on Memorial Day, at 3:00 we are to pause for a moment of silence, as declared by President Clinton in 2000.

We all have people we remember on this and many other days. It is a time to remember them, not forget them and not forget the reasons why they are not here.

It is important to remember the past so we can take the steps of responsibility to prevent more of the very deaths we honor today. We must remember. For it is in remembering that we learn. And it is in learning that we work to prevent the errors of our ways.

So let us remember what Memorial Day is for….not the start of summer, tho that is a very fine thing. Not for picnics and barbecues, tho they are fine too.

No, Memorial Day is for remembering the lives we have lost and remembering the cause for the lost lives. It’s for remembering what the costs are for the freedoms we have and the freedoms we still fight for in many ways.

So we thank everyone who has stood up for those freedoms, in whatever way they have. We thank those who sacrificed their time, health, physical bodies and their lives. For, because of them, we are a free country.

And we must not take those freedoms for granted. We must honor the rights we have and the rights we all deserve. Do not become complacent…that is how many tragedies occurred.

These rights come with responsibilities, do not forget that. For if we forget the responsibilities that all who we honor this weekend fought for and fight for, we have wasted those lives.

We ALL fight for a better country and a better world.

And here’s another true story I’d like to share with you.

It is told that in 1862 during the Civil War, Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison’s Landing, Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of a narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who was severely wounded on the field.

Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, Captain Ellicombe decided to risk being captured to bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach to avoid being noticed, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward the encampment.

When the Captain finally reached his own line, he discovered the soldier was actually a Confederate soldier, but that he was dead.

The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light he saw the face of the soldier, and it was the face of his own son! It seems the boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out and, without telling his father, he enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status and asked if he could have a group of Army band members play at the service.

The request was denied since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say he could have a small funeral with one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper stuffed in the pocket of the dead youth’s uniform.

Those notes became the song known as “Taps.” We are all familiar with the melody, but do we know the words? Listen to them now.

Day is done… Gone the sun… From the lakes…From the hills…From the sky…

All is well… Safely rest…. God is nigh.

Fading light… Dims the sight… And a star… Gems the sky… gleaming bright…

From afar…Drawing nigh… Falls the night.

Thanks and praise…For our days…Neath the sun…Neath the stars…Neath the sky…

As we go…This we know…God is nigh.

Let’s take that into meditation….


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