the irony of this day lies in its original name, armistice day! With great modernist aplomb our ancestors declared this day, November 11 1918, to be the end of the ‘war to end all wars.’ sadly that great war has been reduced to the title, world war one. So now, after losing hope in mankind we are resigned to simply call this day ‘veterans day’. For until Christ comes, there will always be veterans.
O Goethe, Newton and Jefferson you had so much hope. you promised utopia was in our heads, could be built with our hands. That we could one day understand everything. we could one day build a new world, end poverty, make everything right. You told us that if we did it right one day we could put down our weapons and pick up our plows. The pieces were in our grasp. All we had to do was put them together!
What marvelous articles of governance we produced. What fantastic rocket ships we threw far into the universe. What beautiful works of art you painted, even a three day opera in Bayreuth, a feast for eyes and ears and mind. even today i have seen such convincing moving pictures make everything right on a gigantic screen so life like; a superhero saving the day, a lost love returned, a broken world restored. we can make it all look good on film.
but our hopes have dried since we split the atom. our skepticism has increased since we lost our brother somewhere far from home. our hearts have broken since i saw a girl put in foster care because her mother couldn’t get off meth. meanwhile there is a rover looking for life on mars. are we really still looking?
happy veterans day indeed. veterans we will always be. survivors of wars, scarred, bruised, half of what we once were. we left something back there to be sure. we are all veterans of some sort.
but one day the name shall return. armistice day. but it will not just be a temporary agreement to put down arms. it will not last just a day.
the lamb will lie down with the lion
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest
we will turn our swords into plowshares
our spears into fishing hooks
our bombs into bouquets
and our fists into a warm embrace
Lay down your hope in man, oh man.
and behold the One who laid down His life
who did not rise above the violence like Buddha
or smash the enemy with a hammer like Mohammed
but walked right into the war, the hate, the sin, the absence of love
and received it for us.
Peace in Christ veterans. You will rest one day.