I never wrote it down. When Conference Minister with office in Austin, Texas, from 1997—2005, I preached no less than 40 times each year in a different church each Sunday. We had 90 churches, so in about two years, each pulpit had been occupied. Well, that’s only metaphorically true, because until I was told it was not permitted, I never stood in the pulpit.
What I hadn’t done? I hadn’t remembered, even if it was 4 years later, which of my favorite stories had I shared in that pulpit. I laughed when Bill Royster, my wonderful Associate Conference Minister, said to tell the same story didn’t matter. For two reasons. One they will have forgotten. And two, if it’s a good story, no good story should only be told once. I agreed on his second posit but held off on the first. Well, my ego held off, let’s be honest.
So, this being Memorial Day weekend I’m going to repeat a story, one of my favorites. In June of 1987 I received a Doctor of Ministry degree from our UCC Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, Missouri. At the time I was pastor at Broadmoor Community Church in Colorado Springs.
Went to the service alone. That will remain as stated. I was wrong.
Walking in the procession for the service I looked once. Then looked again. There stood one of my Broadmoor Parishioners, Colonel Robert Dickman. ON HIS OWN—it wasn’t a military assignment, but rather his commitment to ministry and the church he wanted to be there. Amazing. That was 1987. Since then Bob has become a General Officer and has retired. He and his wife, Barbara, asked me to baptize their son Tad, even though I served a church after Colorado Springs in Ohio. Tad is now on the executive staff of the Jacksonville NFL team. They know I only wear blue and orange for the Broncos. That has not damaged our friendship.
Bob and I continue in frequent contact. He’s been great in explaining to me what is happening today in military negotiations. I’ll leave it at that. Today I think of Bob and all my military friends, retired and active and offer a prayer of thanksgiving.
I also think of a valued friend, Chase Stapp, Chief of the San Marcos, Texas Police Department. Chase is my go-to-guy when my novel hero, Tricia Gleason, is in a legal/police situation. It’s great for him to help…better than great.
Then. This morning I read the linked story…of how police “showed up” with their lights flashing, so to speak. In support of their fallen colleague’s son at his 5th grade graduation.
So. I give thanks…both for personal circumstances and for societal benefit, for those who serve and protect. Of course. Perfection is not headlined, because it never happens. Yet, I wish. My final wish. I wish people would spit out their anger and then offer a different voice…to understand why kneeling is not such a horrible act. Ah, I wish.