Names to Remember: Stephen, Joseph, Alexander, Paul, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…
In 1862 US General Daniel Butterfield camped with his troops trying to recuperate, after a long 7 days of battle during the Civil War. His men had seen the worst on the battlefield and they needed to rest and be prepared for the freedom for which they strived for. According to military custom at the time a bugle was played loudly to signal the time of rest had come for that day. However, the sound of the bugle did not stir anything in General Butterfield’s heart. It was not pleasing to him and he reworked the melody to his liking. Today that melody is heard every time we lay a solider to rest. The music of Taps, was born.
Though only a few notes, it echoes in our souls and stirs us every time we hear it. Today we remember 100 years ago the fields of WW1, where this melody was all too familiar. And yet, today though not as often heard but the general public unless you attend a military funeral, but the pain of waking up to hearing the loss of a loved one is all too familiar. And for us who lose that loved one, there is no rest, only memories. The sound of the bugle rings on.
Yesterday, at a youth retreat one of our priests spoke about trumpets. And the sound of the bugle and the 11th of November and the events of this past week resounded in my heart. The bugle is a type of trumpet and trumpets are not associated with quiet or calm music. If any one of you has ever played a trumpet, the control it takes is very difficult. Throughout scripture we read of the trumpet as a instrument to announce battle, life and kingship. We see trumpets at the battle of Jericho. The walls are brought down with a blow of a trumpets call. We see trumpets at the last judgement alerting us of the coming of Christ. Yesterday, we celebrated the feast of the Archangels and it is they who blow the trumpet bringing forth such news in the book of revelations. In 1 Corinthians (15:51-52) we read, “Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” The trumpet raises the dead.
These images are loud and powerful. They are not timid or afraid. In fact the bugle was also played to signal a charge by the military. To be a trumpet player in battle took courage. I rather have a rifle in my hand and be hiding rather than run on the field blowing a trumpet. Like I said yesterday the youth of our Diocese had gathered in New Hampshire and during one my talks I spoke about the “hot topics” or the taboo issues that our society faces today. One of the young gentlemen asked me why don’t we as Christian’s speak out against such issues. Why do we allow hate and wrong thoughts about our faith to be preached. We see extremists of both sides left and right screaming and polluting what Christianity actually teaches, why are we so quiet?
It’s interesting that with last weeks political events and some of the comments I read on social media, truly this mans words spoke to me. Because unfortunately those who are most ignorant are always the ones who have the most to say and the loudest in saying it. This week I witnessed the most awful comments on my social media feed about gun violence, about immigration and about voting. Loud, boisterous, in your face. Why? Without blaming extremists and their loud approach, regardless of who voted left or right or what their views on all the “hot topics” are, the passion that is felt in peoples heart spoke out. Passion for what they believe in. However my dear brothers and sisters, when will we be as passionate about faith?
We are bombarded with hate, violence, pain and darkness in this world. What about the call of God? Not the call done from this pulpit, not one from angels and miracles. But each one of us through our actions, resounding like trumpets. Our voices, our actions which can bring down the walls of Jericho and change the world. Our voices, our actions can raise the dead. Our voices, our actions can announce the coming of the Lord our God. As Christ says, “if we have faith”…we can tell the mountain to move. But we like the bugler cannot be timid or quiet. We must be steadfast in our faith and fully trust in God, in his love. So that we can be a testament of that eternal love both on the battlefield of life and when God finally calls us to rest.
As plain as the melody of taps is, it echoes and stirs the depths of our soul. As plain as our actions may seem, our kind words may seem, it echoes and stirs the depths of our souls. When we share a kind word, when we forgive someone who hurts us, when we simply smile. The weather is cold, perhaps when we go to grab a hot tea or coffee, we can buy an extra one for someone who is sitting on the street. Downstairs in the hall, the ACYOA is collecting items to donate to those less fortunate. Though those who receive will never know us by name, that act will echo louder than the call of the loudest trumpet.
Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, let us not be timid and afraid to proclaim our faith. Let us not incline our ears and hearts to those hateful words of this world. Let us be the calming call of Christ love in all circumstance through our actions. Let us be the bugle’s call who brings peace and rest to this world.