American Cemetery in Normandy

"The impact on us was sobering," as I mentioned in my last post. Questions of war and peace are thorny and complex for a follower of Christ. Before I dive into those questions, and maybe in part to avoid them, I just need to say what for most is obvious. War is ugly. Violence is a tragic commentary on our times. The brute reality of so many lives given to a conflict and the sophistication of humanity’s destructive ways are really, really disconcerting. And we’ve made significant improvements on our capacity to destroy since D-day!

At Pointe du Hoc, one of the important sites during the Normandy invasion, we walked around the craters left from the Allied bombardments and sat in the German fortifications, imagining the events of that day. Of the 225 Rangers who had embarked on the insane adventure of taking the German fortifications, only 90 were left to fight on day two. 80 of their comrades had lost their lives in this tiny corner of Normandy, scaling the rock and mud cliffs using ropes and ladders provided by the London fire department. Altogether, more than 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy. Allied casualties totaled around 209,000, including 37,000 dead from the ground forces and almost 17,000 from the airborne forces.

One of my hopes and prayers today is that followers of Christ can be as sophisticated and committed to finding ways of making peace and creating conditions where the “ministry of reconciliation” of the Gospel can be offered, as our world has been able to destroy. We so need it! I'm reminded today of the passage where Christ talks about the stones crying out if his disciples were made to be silent about their enthusiasm for praising God.

"When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began to joyfully praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, order your disciples to stop!" He replied, "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (Luke 19:37-40)

Then the Psalmist gives me pause:

“O God, Thou are my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I behold Thee in the sanctuary, to see Thy power and Thy glory. Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee.” Psalm 63:1-3

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