I listened to a whole podcast on Monday all about the history of Veteran’s Day and its link to Armistice Day which preceded it. In the podcast, it spoke about the need to do more than to just honor our veterans once a year and how for many veterans they would much prefer that we take time to remember all the lives lost or changed by the act of war and to take time to meditate upon what it would take to have a lasting peace in our world. So this is what we are going to talk about today. The call for a lasting peace because that is what Christianity is at its core. We are called to search for inner peace and pray for outward peace so no more lives need to sacrifice to human violence and the evil that sometimes consumes our world.
Much of the world’s violence and hatred stems from a lack of understanding of the differences between people, a lack of compassion for those who suffer, and from a lack of communication about needs or desires. I believe this world needs peace, and not just as a pipe dream. As Christians, we are called to live peaceful lives, but also to communicate those values to others encouraging such peacefulness to spread throughout society. However, we need to first think about how we communicate with one another. Well we have letters, emails, text messaging, tweeting, telephones, face to face contact, are there any others? (let congregants answer) There are less verbal forms of communication like body language (show) that give us understandings about people and may mean different things depending on what culture we live in.
All of these ways of communication sets the foundations for any kind of relationship we have whether it is just acquaintances, friends, familial, marital, professional, diplomatic, or enemy based. How we conduct ourselves in this world matters, even how we communicate with God matters. Our communications with God should involve prayer and silence and patience as we await his answers. And these behaviors should spill over into all areas of life. If the world were to work on communication, in all of its intricacies, I believe we would eventually achieve the respect and peace that God so longs for out of humanity. We would achieve a peace where no more people would need to risk their lives in war and we could achieve the original hope behind Armistice Day, which was to maintain peace forever.
Our goal when we work with others should be what Mother Theresa often urged “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile”. Our body language, our words, and our actions need to match that desire to live into the peace of God. For the best way we can honor the sacrifices of our veterans is to strive for a better more caring world. And that begins with how each individual communicates with one another and how we share the kindness of God.
Today’s scriptures speak to different forms of communication and the impact that that communication has on people. We heard first from a Psalmist who entered into prayer in the form of a hymn. This was not just a song that he liked. This song he wrote specifically to communicate with God and others who came into worship about the greatness of God. It was a beautiful way that he shared his understanding of God’s love. Paul’s 2nd letter to the Thessalonians was his response to a communication he received from a congregation that he set up in Thessalonica, Greece. His response was to offer comfort to a people who were greatly agitated by the teachings of a non-Pauline Christian preacher who told the people that the end of the world was here.
His writings were meant to bring peace to their hearts by assuring them that the time for the second coming was not at hand. His communications were intended to answer questions that were bringing the people into direct conflict with one another and their neighbors. So we too should strive to make our every communication: words, prayers, and body language, exude the peace that we are seeking in our society; a peace that is based in God’s kindness so that every person who comes by our path may leave our presence happier and better than when they entered it.
So today and tomorrow as we celebrate Veteran’s Day let us remember to do more than just say thank you to those who sacrificed so much. Let us also remember why they sacrificed so much and work to prevent others from having to give so much of themselves as well. Remember the words of the Psalmist this morning and how he wrote, “The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.” If this is how God acts with humanity then this is how we need to act in our world that seems so torn by violence, hate, and misunderstandings. Let us each do something this week to live into God’s kindness and to spread that kindness to others: veterans and fellow members of society alike and let us be the peace we long to see.
 Mother Theresa, 20th century Catholic theologian.
 Psalm 145: 17, NRSV.
(based on Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5,13-17)