The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, At-Home Service for July 4th

The families in which my wife and I grew up have long histories of defending the freedoms we enjoy in this country by serving in the Armed Forces. On my side of the family, I am in the first generation not to have served in the military, although my wife’s brother and her niece’s husband both served in Iraq and Afghanistan. My father served in the Air Force during the Vietnam Conflict. My maternal uncle served in the Marine Corps. Everyone in the family thought that my Uncle Ed, because he was part of a division band, was just playing his trombone. What he did not share until he returned home was that he also had been a gunner on a helicopter stationed in Da Nang. During World War II, my maternal grandfather served as a Technical Sergeant in the Army, working on tanks. He arrived in Europe five days after D-Day. My paternal grandfather was the skipper of a Navy landing craft in the Pacific during World War II; his brother served in the Army. Their father served in World War I.

Click here to view the at-home version of the service.

Pastor Rike’s Sermon

Many other people could provide similar histories, but the relationship between my grandfather and his brother had particular significance in light of the passage read today from the Gospel according to Mark. Despite being in the Army, my grandfather’s brother, my Great-Uncle Marvin, never saw action overseas during World War II. He was a shell-shock victim as the result of a training accident. For a time, after he returned home to Dayton, Ohio, he remained in the VA hospital. When my great-grandfather learned that Marvin was receiving electric shock treatments he demanded that his son immediately be released. So, Uncle Marvin spent the next 40 years mostly hidden in an upstairs bedroom of his parents’ home. Although no longer enduring shock treatments, he was verbally degraded and treated like an imbecile.

After my great-grandparents died, my dad’s parents had great hopes for Uncle Marvin. They moved him into his own condominium next to theirs. They had a door cut through for easy access between the two condos. They hoped that with understanding, gentleness, and respect Marvin might enjoy a better quality of life and a greater measure of independence. However, the reality was that at 65 years of age, Marvin still had bathroom accidents. Apart from baseball statistics, conversations with him consisted mostly of grunts. Despite their hopes and their work, my paternal grandparents were powerless to change the situation. Marvin was never going to recover. One might wonder if their efforts were pointless. How should a person respond when it becomes clear one is powerless to change the situation?

Click here to read Pastor Rike’s sermon

Video Options

Follow along with the service on video led by Pastor Rike, with music performed by Randy Broker.

The Sixth Sunday After Pentecost for July 4th includes 
Hymn - Come to Me, All Pilgrims Thirsty, performed by Randy Broker  
First Reading- Ezekiel 2:1-5
Gospel- Mark 6:1-13  
Sermon by Pastor Rike   
Hymn - Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, performed by Randy Broker