9 Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare war, stir up the warriors. Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up. 10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.”
11 Come quickly, all you nations all around, gather yourselves there. Bring down your warriors, O Lord. 12 Let the nations rouse themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the neighboring nations.
13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.
14 Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
My father went to war, as did many other fathers, brothers, sons, and uncles; so did many mothers, daughters and sisters…
I think it is safe to assume that for many of these people going to war was not their first choice, but was what they felt they had to do, not only for their nation, but also for their families, in order to keep the world safer for them and their future.
Even for those who served but did not go to war, there were sacrifices made in terms of years spent away from home, and lives uprooted. Joining the military (for whatever reason) takes a commitment to greater cause, and hopefully to a greater good.
While I am not a Veteran, I have respect for all those who have served, and can understand that level of commitment to something greater than myself, and my own selfish desires. This level of commitment takes faith in that something greater…
For those of us who are single parents we can understand that kind of faith…that kind of selfless commitment…for we too have been called to a higher purpose in our lives…a calling we may have followed with some reluctance, fear and uncertainty, but one we knew we had to follow for the good our family and ourselves!
In many ways we too had to become warriors, ready to face any challenge, to sacrifice our own personal desires and ambitions, and to use our time and talents in ways that we never would have expected. As it says in the scripture reading for today, we too have often had to stop in the midst of our lives, and change direction in order to face the challenges of being a single parent…even if we were still trying to get the hang of being a partnered parent; once we became single the game changed completely!
Dealing with these changes, and facing these challenges can often feel like we are going into a battle, taking a path in life that is unfamiliar to us, and filled with pitfalls, frustrations and fear! In the face of these changes, there is good news for us (yes there is always good news even if it does not always seem like it); and this is also pointed out to us in today’s reading, when the prophet tells us that the Day of the Lord is near!
This is not a day to be feared, but to be celebrated, as the Day of the Lord, refers to when we will finally be reconciled with God and with each other, and our broken world will become whole!
As we take up the warrior’s task of raising our children as single parents, we are also reminded that we do not have to take up this task alone, as any Veteran can tell you (whether of a war, parenting or of some other challenge) we always do better when we are facing these challenges together, for together we can accomplish amazing things that we could not do all by ourselves! This too is good news: that we are never alone!
When we are following the call to raise our children we are moving towards the Day of the Lord, when the Kingdom of God will become a reality in our midst! By sharing our faith in God’s grace with our children, and with each other, we are teaching them the power of God’s love in our world, and showing them how to share this faith through how they live their lives.
Just as our military Veterans can teach us about honor, bravery, commitment and how to be of service to others, we who are veterans of single parenting can be an example of faith in action to our children, and a source of strength and support to other single parents struggling with the challenges of raising their children ‘on their own’, providing them with compassion and support as they follow the call to single parenting.
Let us Pray:
Dear God, thank you for the men and women who served our nation with bravery and honor. Please help us to follow their example of selflessness and integrity, as we make the sacrifices needed to raise our children as single parents. Help us to have faith in our calling as parents, and to remember that we need the support and help of others, with whom we share your love, in order to meet the challenges we are called to face. Let us remember that as we share your love with our children and with the world, we are bringing your kingdom every closer to being a reality in our world.