Category Archives: Chaplin’s Corner

Monthly article from the Chaplain

Not a Prayer!… (?)

The Commencement Exercises for the Jacob Gunther Elementary School were held on June 24, 1992 with this chaplain’s name (mine!) listed after the word, “Invocation.” Anyone going to the files in that school can still find that program and see my name printed in it – and perhaps never realize that I never got to say a word… or even attend! The poor principal, in some embarrassment, phoned me at 2:00 p.m. that June afternoon and shared the news that the school was now expected to follow the Supreme Court’s recent ruling forbidding prayer at a school ceremony and that I should not come to that place at 7:00!

It seems that a certain Daniel and Deborah Weisman of Rhode Island had brought a case against prayer in school to court… and it made it all the way to Washington where the Supreme Court upheld the ban in Lee v. Weisman, making it the law of the land to exclude the prayers.

I recall writing a newsletter article for the congregation I served at the time, explaining that it might be a good thing to spare people from the unwelcome presence of such a thing that sets some of them at odds with others who pray. I shared my experience of prayers attempted at other ceremonies in which the high school graduates made no attempt to hide the beer bottles from which they were drinking (in caps and gowns!) and no disguising their inattention to the words being spoken or to the spirit of respect and consideration. Such deportment troubled, disappointed, and even shocked some standing with dignity while others of the opposite spirit raised a din, while no one in authority ever said or did a thing.

So in this season of the year, when many people of faith remember with thanksgiving the freedoms we enjoy in this nation, where stories of faith can be told without threat of hindrance. There is feasting in the retelling of powerful deliverance from long-term abuse in Egypt (with miraculous establishment of a special people, God’s own people – through the sea and into the Promised Land) and the assurance that the Mighty One displays authority that conquers the very fear and sting of death itself in a surprise Third Day that changed defeated and sorrowing followers into bold and confident celebrants of the power of love and new life. How appropriate to pause… and pray.

I marvel that, in this world of so much coarseness and mockery, every meeting of the Long Island Shields includes some moments… of prayer. How unlike so many other groups we are – that we pause in our busy lives and – as a group of friends – share in reflective moments of attention of a Power greater than ourselves. It makes me feel so honored to be included in such a worthy tradition!

JGAnderson, Chaplain

Seeking Peace on Earth

With “Holiday Shopping” starting before Hallowe’en this year – [can you believe it??!!], we’ve been greeted in so many – as in, a lot of commercials – by carols already – and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Now, whoa…. I’m not launching a grumple-rant with sour grapes. Instead of that, I’m just wondering how long we’ll hear “peace on earth, good will to all” without its losing its intended meaning. There has always been the trap of over-sentimentalizing the age-old phrases – feeling a “good, old-time feeling” with all its fuzzy warmth – without giving any thought to what its all about in our present world.

So, speaking for the real world where morality can make such a difference, guest speaker Matthew Bogdanos, came to visit the L.I. Shields some time back. He told us about how, when he was asked to do so, he felt challenged by what’s right and good…. to head up an investigation into the when and how, the by whom, and how much might have been lost in the outrageous looting of the National Historic Museum of Baghdad following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regieme in 2003. With a Marine officer’s education, experience, dedication, and fidelity, Colonel Bogdanos led a team that began to create an inventory of all the historic artifacts which the museum’s damaged facilities continued still to hold…. and establish a catalog of everything that now needed to be found and reclaimed. By showing respect for the people whose knowledge could make this team effort work successfully, he helped a city of frustrated, demoralized, and angry Iraqi citizens calm down the rhetoric and demonstrate the need for national pride to replace selfish profit-taking. He surmounted tribal and ethnic suspicion and hatred by focusing sharply on ability and truth.

As Bogdanos saw it, “peace on earth,” had a lot to do with restoring to the people of Iraq appropriate recognition and celebration of the incredibly long history of that ancient land. Against the backdrop of news reports making baseless and false reports of vast losses (in order to sell newspapers), Bogdanos found a way to show that, even though, yes, there were thefts, no, they weren’t as high as the hysteria-generating news items made it to appear. Furthermore there was a backdrop of unscruptulous dealers in antiquities who knew where to go and what to take as plunder from the people of Iraq in the midst of turmoil and lawlessness; these “thieves of Baghdad” needed to be stopped – or at least hindered – from wrenching profits from a nation’s heritage. By making the rest of the world aware of the kinds of items that were missing, the dealers’ markets became more and more limited; the best of the “loot” could not be easily sold.

The book “Thieves of Baghdad” has the power to make anyone who thinks he or she could ever match the service of this Colonel to simply stand in awe. It also gives the power to catch a glimpse of how our best efforts for good and the right, for honesty and respect…. can indeed make a difference in this hurt-saturated world where the hate-filled and violent villains seem to get all the headlines. With strength to care and aid, even “the little guys” can cause the marginalized, the poor, the down-trodden, the sick, and the needy of our world to also catch a glimpse of what “peace on earth” might look like, feel like.

Chaplain JGAnderson

“Nonsense of Brevity”

I saw the following information in an on-line news item. A newspaper headline called out: “Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms.”

The sentence was intended to indicate that a certain musician’s career had flourished after a painful time following the plane crash which took the life of her father. The odd and unintended combination of “crash blossoms” actually confuses the reader and appears to be nonsense. The example quickly mutated into a term, which was soon picked up by John McIntyre, a retired copy editor (Baltimore Sun) and teacher at Loyola of Maryland since 1995.

The Columbia Journalism Review has been on the “crash-blossom” case a long time, inspiring laughter with such gems as “Lawmen from Mexico Barbecue Guests,” “Genetic Engineering Splits Scientists,” “Milk Drinkers Turn to Powder”, “War Dims Hopes for Peace,” “Greeks Fine Hookers,” “Prostitutes Appeal to Pope,” and “Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant.”
It just got me thinking how many “in- house” expressions there are which people use, rarely comprehending how confusing or even nonsense-like they might sound to others.

For example, consider “Have Faith.” If faith is a gift, how can anyone be commanded to have it? Or, how about the gambit, “Brother – are you saved?” What response is being sought by such a quiz? – Approval by some pop-up judge? Is the question comprehensible?

Even favorite Bible verses, quoted out of context, can sound meaningless to all but the people who are familiar with a lot more than a few words and phrases. The famous placard held up before dozens of football fans on the 50- yard line (and effectively blocking their view just when the best action on the field is finally nearest to them!) either says “John 3:16” or prints it out, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I admire the zeal of the attempted evangelist, but I am curious as to how many people, reading that for a first time at a ball game, would ever find meaning in it. Does not such brevity of word most effectively inspire derision instead of heart-felt persuasion?

I like the one-liner attributed to St. Francis of Assisi – “Preach the Gospel Always: When Necessary, Use Words.” Living a moral and decent life declares more effectively the spirit of true faith than many words.

It was Paul the apostle who preferred to speak five words intelligently than thousands of words in strange “tongues”. [I Cor. 14:19] And St. Augustine advised, “Love God and do what you please.” [It’s a catchy way of using the Latin language structure to attract attention, surprise, and insight: the words say literally “Love God and do what pleases you.” With a proper spirit, the things that please are far from the libertine’s “Do whatever you want!”]

As we project the care and concern of faith, we challenge ourselves on the effectiveness of our transmission techniques, lest we fall into so many crash blossoms! Speak the love of God and lead the neighbor to give God the praise; lead them into the very heart of thanksgiving!

Chaplain JGAnderson

Chaplain’s Corner, July 2014

Terms of Endearment

Last month’s Chaplain’s piece by Fr. Joe reminded us of the blessedness of a bridge-builder, one who could make it possible to reestablish communication with someone from whom we’d become estranged. That story brought back to my memory a Newsday article [Tuesday, June 25, 2002, page A12] that said: “Abby Has Nothing to Say.” “Pauline Phillips, better known by her nom de plume of Abigail Van Buren, will not comment publicly on the death of her twin sister and fellow columnist, Esther Lederer, better known as Ann Landers. …After an unflattering 1958 Life magazine profile in which each spoke poorly about the other, the two did not speak for a decade.”

What is this?… twin sister advice doyennes were unable to communicate with each other? It surely had to cause questions to arise about the depth or expertise of their rendered advice – if they couldn’t be civil to each other. And it seems to matter not at all who might have been “right” or “wrong” in any particular exchange of comments. The turning away from kin is striking in its sad power to overshadow whatever good might otherwise have been done through years of assisting others regarding interpersonal relations.

But what an opposite effect came forth from a tribute written by Ann Landers’ niece, Jeanne Phillips (aka Dear Abby). She called her “Aunt Eppie” a woman of courage, integrity and loyalty… not only beautiful… (but) caring and generous. She sketched out a few brief recollections that revealed her aunt’s dealings with her in the most positive tones. She spoke like a dear family member and, in doing so, became a force for good, uprightness, honor and respect. The result of her efforts was grace and genuine affection.

It strikes me that there’s incredible power in the word lovingly spoken. Almost irrespective of “right-ness” or “accuracy,” the gracious and respectful utterance – transfigures the writer or speaker from whom it comes. Suddenly we think better of one who had been incapacitated by hurts or offences, rendered culturally enfeebled, less-than-that of which she had had the potential. The goodness of a niece makes the aunt somehow dearer, the offensiveness of a decade of non-communication less detracting. We are freed up to say that we will miss the one who gave the best advice she was capable of rendering. We liked the way Ann Landers helped so many people.

Is this perhaps a hint of the incalculable effectiveness of the Lord’s advocacy of our causes? If a human niece can do such good, how much greater is the pleading of our case before the company of heaven by the Holy One, our God? Makes one to really want to say… or write… or think the words that build up, encourage, and humanize the people around us whose lives we touch, eh?

In the name of the One who calls us “”Dear Ones,”

Chaplain James G. Anderson

 

Chaplain’s Corner, November 2013

Something About a Kindly Light

I was warmed to hear some time ago – like forty years or so – that Gandhi, the driving force behind the ending of Britain’s colonial rule of India, was a life-long Hindu, yet found something close to his heart in a hymn he often sang while studying at Oxford – “Lead, Kindly Light.” His feeling was something about the insight that the hymn expressed, that the Almighty (by whatever name one might call the Divine and Greater-than-we) who spoke the word, “Let there be Light!” was truly the Very Light of all that is. However, that power, he affirmed, was not impersonal, arbitrary, or malevolent – but instead, was kindly, loving, and blessed. How right, he thought, to pray that such a Lord should lead a person rather than make life’s travelers stumble along blindly, led only by willfulness (selfish, self-seeking, oppressive pride).

In his darkest moments of doubting the wisdom of his good intentions, Gandhi was often comforted by the prayer that he should find “one step enough for me,” instead of expecting that he’d always see the “big picture” clearly and proceed flawlessly on the right path. He taught that the humility suggested by such a phrase would save a person from anger-creating, hate-generating frustration that turned many well-intended saviors into “my way or the highway”-type ogres.

He also appreciated how good it is to be rescued from pride and seeking power, fame, and treasure, which entice a person into ways of destruction. We are converted lovingly from narrowness and strengthened in generosity, sensitivity, and altruism.

The words to whish he was referring said, “Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;?Lead thou me on!?The night is dark, and I am far from home;?Lead thou me on!? Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see?The distant scene–one step enough for me. I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thou?Shouldst lead me on.?I loved to choose and see my path; but now,?Lead thou me on!? I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,?Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years. [Text: John Henry Newman, 1801-1890]

It is interesting to note that the author of that hymn was an Anglican cleric (ordained June 13, 1824 in the Church of England) who became a Roman Catholic in 1845. His lifestyle was so modest and pious and his academic credits so impressive that he was made a Cardinal in the Church that allowed his expression of such a blessed hope.

Newman’s expressions of faith influenced Gandhi in such a way that the Protestant or Roman Catholic backgrounds of his life did not stand in the way of his treasuring the thoughts and prayers about which he wrote or sang. How significant in the upcoming seasons of Light for so many people of humble faith that we find joy in the thought that the Author of Light is indeed kindly toward us. We are encouraged therefore to bring enlightenment to others who find themselves limited by the encircling gloom, by standing for the right, defending the oppressed, providing for those in need as opportunity presents possibilities to us, and rejoicing in the warmth in which we give thanks for all we’ve ever received – more than we’d ever deserved or ever dreamed. How very kindly is the Light, indeed.

Chaplain James G. Anderson

Chaplain’s Corner, September 2013

Chaplain’s Sacred Task

Our society today is blessed with technological and medical advances unparalleled in world history. And there is more to come. The potential of humanity to continue to be partners with G-d in creating a good life for all is explained throughout the Book of Ecclesiastes,

However, for those of us being blessed with the honor and privilege of protecting society know very well the reality of the cruelty of man to man.

The day to day reality has an impact on all of our police officers. There are times that a police officer also has to endure challenges outside of police work, such as family matters, finances, etc.

One of the resources available to police officers and their families is the unlimited resources a Department Chaplain can offer to resolve one’s personal concern. And one’s CONFIDENTIALITY is sacred.

Of course it’s very important that there is the “family” feel that a police officer connects with the chaplain. The chaplain has the ability to network with all the resources an MOS needs to resolve whatever issue one has. The chaplain’s resources are what I term fondly the CIA, Chaplain’s Intelligence Agency.

One hopes that an MOS or family never needs the chaplain’s support. However, it is always available.

Best wishes and safe patrol.

Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz
Chaplain, Long Island Shields

Chaplain’s Corner, June 2013

From the Chaplain:

During the month of May we honor two important groups of people in our lives, police officers (during Police Week) and our military personnel in the armed services (on Memorial Day). We honor them because they made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives in the service of Peace and Justice. We honor them because they did what others would not do, that is, they placed themselves in harm’s way, so that we might enjoy our days and nights in security and freedom.

Nevertheless, while we remember those who gave their lives on the streets or in the battlefield, we also pay tribute to the many police officers and military personnel, who daily risk their lives, whether on the streets or in the battlefield, in the performance of their duties to protect, serve, and keep the peace.

We thank in a small way those who have died, with words of their valor inscribed on granite walls. But we can and should thank, with our genuine words inscribed in and spoken from our hearts, those who still live and work among and for us.

These thoughts remind me of the very moving story of one Charles Plum, who was a Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface to air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a Communist Vietnamese prison. He survived this ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience. What follows is his recounting of a story that he tells his audience, which is also in his book. I found it inspirational and worthy of everyone’s consideration, so I a passing it on to you.

Packing Parachutes – By Charlie Plumb

Recently, I was sitting in a restaurant in Kansas City. A man about two tables away kept looking at me. I didn’t recognize him. A few minutes into our meal he stood up and walked over to my table, looked down at me, pointed his finger in my face and said, “You’re Captain Plumb.”
I looked up and I said, “Yes sir, I’m Captain Plumb.”

He said, “You flew jet fighters in Vietnam. You were on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down. You parachuted into enemy hands and spent six years as a prisoner of war.”

I said, “How in the world did you know all that?”

He replied, “Because, I packed your parachute.”

I was speechless. I staggered to my feet and held out a very grateful hand of thanks. This guy came up with just the proper words. He grabbed my hand, he pumped my arm and said, “I guess it worked.”

“Yes sir, indeed it did”, I said, “and I must tell you I’ve said a lot of prayers of thanks for your nimble fingers, but I never thought I’d have the opportunity to express my gratitude in person.”

He said, “Were all the panels there?”

“Well sir, I must shoot straight with you,” I said, “of the eighteen panels that were supposed to be in that parachute, I had fifteen good ones. Three were torn, but it wasn’t your fault, it was mine. I jumped out of that jet fighter at a high rate of speed, close to the ground. That’s what tore the panels in the chute. It wasn’t the way you packed it.”

“Let me ask you a question,” I said, “do you keep track of all the parachutes you pack?”

“No” he responded, “it’s enough gratification for me just to know that I’ve served.”

I didn’t get much sleep that night. I kept thinking about that man. I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform – a Dixie cup hat, a bib in the back and bell bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I might have passed him on board the Kitty Hawk. I wondered how many times I might have seen him and not even said “good morning”, “how are you”, or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor. How many hours did he spend on that long wooden table in the bowels of that ship weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of those chutes, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he did not know? I could have cared less…until one day my parachute came along and he packed it for me.

When he speaks, Charles Plum usually asks his audience, “Who is packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes, when is plane was shot down over enemy territory. He needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes the challenges of every-day life prevent us from seeing what is really important. We may fail to say hello or good-bye, please or thanks, to congratulate or compliment, or just do a random act of kindness for someone we don’t even know, for no reason at all.

So the philosophical question here is this: How’s your parachute packing coming along? Who looks to you for strength in times of need? And perhaps, more importantly, who are the special people in your life who provide you the encouragement you need when the chips are down? Perhaps it’s time right now to give those people a call and thank them for packing your chute.

Chap. Fr. Joe D’Angelo

Chaplain’s Corner, April 2013

From the Chaplain:

Spring from Dark into the Light

Each person’s way of seeing things makes huge differences – and can often lead to ruffled feathers or even
anger, hurt and resentment. So, in this season of Springtime buds and greening, let me share some thoughts on
narrowness and openness.

I recall the time I spent working in an area of the Poconos where the only radio station played “Country
Music!” I got a taste there for Merle Haggard who sang about down-to-earth and gutsy stuff – everyday things
about youthful darings, late nights in bars, trains, trucks, and pretty girls.

I remember one song that lamented the failure of some ne’er-do-well adventurer who ignored his mother’s
best efforts to keep him on the straight and narrow. The refrain said:
“And I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied
That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried”

The un-named lifer in these lyrics regrets his failure all right… and owns up to his guilt – he has no one
else to blame but himself. But there’s never a mention made about what crime it was that merited “life without
parole.” Was it, perhaps, the killing of a member of the police department, the murder of a robbery victim… or
something else? Whatever it was certainly had to be severe. Where’s the focus on the family that lost an officer, a
valued and beloved person… or the way life is changed forever for innocent people?

As far as the lyrics go, I guess we can sympathize with a young man’s life lost before it hardly got started.
And we can sympathize with his mother’s sorrow because of the tragic terrors that ensnared her son. But we must
marvel at the inadequacy of this focus that is so insensitive to anyone else.

That’s a measure – sensitivity – that suggests a higher level of humanity – so crucial to the common good
of all people. Our society cannot thrive when self-absorbed, violent, and evil-intended people wreak havoc. The law
must remove such forces from our midst and boost the security of the law-abiding. But, admitting this, we must not
adopt the ways of narrowness, thinking that we’re perfect, needing no improvement in social skills.

How refreshing to consider the Passover from enslavement into the new possibilities of the Promised Land.

How inspiring to contemplate the divine reversal of the effects of Evil’s power by the irrepressible might of Love
itself – that revealed a Prince of Peace whom death itself could not bind. In springtime’s renewal we sense the
miracle of going from narrowness (hatred, prejudice, greed, selfishness, and violence) into the warmth and light of a
new day (respect, benevolence, altruism). We need not stand forever in the grip of the cold, but glimpse the promise
of redemption, renewal, and growth.

In celebrating the good and the moral – and rejecting the paralysis of negative and self-oriented thinking,
we participate in that satisfying privilege of being part of the solution to the world’s worst problems. How awesome
and rewarding it is to be counted among those who are concerned for keeping the peace. May the Almighty Power
embolden us anew as we behold the promise that focuses on the light that replaces winter’s darkness.

Chap. James G. Anderson

Chaplain’s Corner, December 2012

From the Chaplain:

Times of Turmoil

It’s the talk of the town, isn’t it,… how a lot of us really got hit this time? That double-whammy of superstorm “Sandy” followed by a Nor’easter (with five inches of heavy snow right along with it) put a lot of people out of power, disconnected from communications, and shivering in the cold. That scheduled November 1st LI Shields meeting at Stewart Thomas Manor had to be scratched since the lights were out, the kitchen was in the dark, and the porte-cochère (covered entry) was lying in the driveway where a big gust of wind had lifted it up and dropped it down. The might of a storm is awesome. And this bad boy tag-team was really something [some say the worst we’ve seen in many decades].

Ever hear how the ancients described the lightning and wind and rain of a storm?

Psalm 29:3 The voice (Thunder) of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, upon many waters. 4 The voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Si’rion like a young wild ox. 7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. 8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness, the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the LORD makes the oaks to writhe, and strips the forests bare…

Psalm 107:23 Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; 24 they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. 25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; 27 they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; 29 he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed…

In either selection mighty storms are captured in images of lightning strikes splitting trees, winds shaking the trees of the forest and stripping the landscape bare, and seas making experienced sailors sea-sick, scared to death, and carried up to the sky and down again into the green-water troughs. Might and overwhelming chaos are powerfully portrayed. The result of such terror is the cry of distress. And the Might Lord hears the prayers of the afflicted and sends peace to them.

What a confidence is given to all who trust the Mighty One! They are continually restored to strength… and empowered to come to the aid of others who are in trouble. One could say that the most powerful impressions of these natural disasters is the obvious presence of so many neighbors and friends, police and armed service personnel, Power-Restorers from all over the country, EMT’s and medical people of every description… Who came to the assistance of people threatened and distressed by the winds and the waves. In ways common to the experiences of Shields members, the Mighty one “brought them out from their distress,” and has given them abundant reasons to be very thankful! It will be good to see one another at the December 5th meeting. Stay safe and strong… And come on out!

Chap. James G. Anderson

 

Chaplain’s Corner, November 2012

From the Chaplain:

Concern for the Rescuers

Just the other day, a child’s glove lay on the blacktop of the supermarket parking lot, drawing my attention as I made my way toward the entrance. I considered retrieving it but decided it was pretty much past cleaning and repair and, besides, there was no way to get it back to its owner. I did notice it, however, and I was taken by the little proportions, a hand half the size of mine. Other than that, though, I was too not much affected by the sight and I kept on moving towards the store.

But later on, I reflected on the common experience of spying something so familiar, something attractive (in the way of drawing our attention to it), something interesting, something meaningful in the otherwise humdrum chores of regular, day-to-day life. Everyone has seen such things. They’re out there everywhere.

If, however, a police officer – who had at some time given assistance at the scene of serious injury or death that involved a child – … If such a person should have come upon that same little glove in that same parking lot, the effect might have been a “flash back,” a sudden reliving of a moment of horror with all of its terror, revulsion, sorrow, and even panic. The shopping chore so normal to everyone else could become a debilitating time of anxiety, of wanting to quit “the job,” of running from responsibility and the pain that goes with it. The same would apply to an Emergency Medical Technician, a Fireman, a Nurse, or a Doctor. Critical Incident Stress is a serious problem as it affects the emotional well being of those who try to help the people of our towns, counties, cities, or state.

Emergency assistance departments have begun to realize the threat of CIS on its personnel and have started to make sensitive counselors available, hoping to lessen the damage that can come to such a worker and avoid the resignations that so often come when the stress breaks the helper’s spirit. The results have been encouraging and the loss of well trained, experienced emergency workers has been lessened. My tradition is influenced by Martin Luther who taught that, when we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” such people as these (who are often harried by stress) are the very ministers God sends to help us when the chaos of accident, violence, or destruction threatens our lives or the lives of those we love, restoring the peace that is required for us to have our bread, all that we need for life day to day. If we agree with this insight, we must pray also for our police, fire fighters, soldiers, sailors,… rescuers from every conceivable department of assistance. For in them God responds to our needs when our need is greatest.

Another “New Year” marks a whole new opportunity to consider the days, months, and years that God gives us as a blessing. We are living therefore with a whole new chance to give thanks for God’s gracious care and to remember, in prayer with thanksgiving, all those who suffer stress as they assist us in terribly dangerous times. They are our rescuers. We must feel a sense of awe for their work. Some of us might feel a need to pray for them. May you “all of you” be blessed in the upcoming new year, 2013.

Chap. James G. Anderson