For the Week of May 29, 2016
Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he
will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you (Deuteronomy 32:7).
The tapping stopped on Christmas Eve. The year was 1941. The place was Pearl Harbor.
By then the fires had burned out. The memories, however, would burn for lifetimes.
The sight of the dead on December 7th, the moans of the wounded, and the smell of the
burning ships would be seared into the minds of those who were there and survived. It
was indeed a “day of infamy.” But it did not end when the sun slipped under the edge of
the Pacific on that day. Sailors were trapped inside of the capsized vessels. They tapped
on the hull of the ship to let would-be rescuers know that they were still alive—and
Heroic efforts ensued. With blowtorches and jacks and sweat, swarms of sailors
attacked the walls of the steel prisons. Many were freed. Many were saved. But not all.
It was heart-wrenching to hear the tapping come from places that the rescuers could
not reach. It was gut-wrenching to listen to the taps echoing out day after day,
becoming softer and softer—until they finally stopped.
Those sailors would always remember the shock of the sound of bombs exploding. And
they would never forget the anguish of the sound of shipmates pitifully tapping. They
would spend the rest of their life remembering.
It is well for us to remember, too.
“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past…” This is not just wise
advice; it is the command of the Lord God.
The past teaches lessons about ourselves and our God. We learn about human pride and
viciousness—and frailty. We learn about divine justice and power. We learn the
meaning of grace, of amazing undeserved love.
We learn about the need for help from heaven; the need for a divine Rescuer.
Angels heard that tapping from below the waters. Did they weep over the USS Arizona
and the Nevada as Jesus once wept over Jerusalem? It is not for us to say.
Angelic spirits were not deployed to free those sailors from the hold of steel as they
once were sent to free a Paul and Barnabas from jail bars. But that does not mean they
were not used. When the souls of God’s own broke free from earth’s bounds, angels
were sent to escort them to heaven.
The day after the tapping stopped a message from heaven rang out in Pearl Harbor and
from Christian churches everywhere. It was a repeat of the angelic announcement:
Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy!
Grieving hearts heard those words again and remembered the good tidings: For unto
you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord! It was a
message they desperately needed. It was a message of eternal hope.
We need to remember the sorrow that is part of Memorial Day. And then we need to
remember Christmas—the answer to all sorrow.
The echo of the repeated taps on steel that came from below water still reaches
On this Memorial Day a somber sound will float over many a place where our warriors
rest. To the 1941 tapping on steel we somberly reply with the sound of Taps—this time
played with a trumpet
Those who know the closing words to the melody may whisper them softly:
Thanks and praise, For our days,
’Neath the sun, ‘Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.
If you have access to the Internet, the following video will allow you to ponder the words
to “Amazing Grace” and “Taps”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G1FvlPakkU.
Almighty Father, strong to save, with heads bowed in respect and honor, we
remember those who died in defense of America, and your strong arm working
through them. Many of them had prayed, “God bless America!” You heard their words
and granted your blessing. You were there when the telegram of death came to
doorsteps. You walked with the loved ones who stared at a flag-draped casket, or
wept over the note that said the grave was in a far-off land. You heard the sounding of
taps over the fresh graves, and you greeted your faithful ones to that land where
there will be no tapping in despair, and no sound of taps floating through the air. Bring
us to that place where it is forever Christmas. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military
For an audio file of this, and other devotions, log on to www.welsmilitary.net
Lutheran Military Support Group
Today is one of Lutheran Military Support Group’s two main fund raising days, Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Today’s door offering will go to support the following LMSG programs: PTSD Spiritual Counseling, Local Congregational LMSG projects, European Chaplain Support, Military Contact Pastor Training, Grass Roots Veterans support to DryHootch, God & Grub, the National Chaplain’s office, Blue Star Mothers, Pastoral travel expenses to remote military families and to Mission congregations next to Military Installations.
This year’s fund raising theme “PRAISE THE LORD AND PASS THE AMMUNITION” – is based on the premise that if everyone pitches in we can continue to help our WELS and ELS men and women who wear the uniform of our country.
Our theme is a widely recognized World War II saying that anyone over the age of 50 has probably heard many times. When I was young I heard it blurted out – usually when there were several people working together handing something to one another. No one ever stopped and told me the origin of this phrase. I doubt if they knew exactly. Today we have the internet, so here is the rest of the story…
On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the USS New Orleans was tied up at dock 1010 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As the bombing raids ensued, sailors on the New Orleans had formed lines of men to carry ammunition up through the quarterdeck to the deck guns. The officer in charge of the Ammo line stated that he heard a voice behind him saying “PRAISE THE LORD AND PASS THE AMMUNITION”. He turned and saw Chaplain Lt. Howell Forgy moving down the line patting the men on the back and making that remark to cheer the men on. The officer stated that hearing the Chaplain helped him keep going.
So this morning we are asking you to join us to stand Shoulder to Shoulder with LMSG to pass the ammunition. Please consider placing a donation to LMSG in the Ammo can located in the Narthex or by mailing your donations to: LMSG, 3200 Darden Drive; Woodbridge, VA 22192.
In His Service,