Who do you stand with?

It was never easy to chose sides for the Army Navy Game at our house. You may know that this rivalry first began on the field in November 1890. Although played in various locations the most frequent city to host the game has been Philadelphia which is roughly equidistant from the two academies. In the early years we had Army and Navy represented but things became more neutral when two others joined the Air Force. They didn’t have a “horse in the race” so wearing their shirt became the best choice, at least for me.

I am proud that seven members of my family have or are currently serving in the military. I also have a number of friends and former students who serve as police officers. I am proud of them as well. One is a former warrant squad officer, another a detective. I know a police chief and several of the officers I know are women. I admire their bravery and integrity.

It has been painful to watch how the respect and honor of serving in law enforcement has disintegrated in our nation. Yes, I am, well aware of the horrific behavior of some police officers and military personnel. Currently the focus is on the cops and well it should be, but I still remember the trauma of learning about the My Lai Massacre which was a mass murder of unarmed South Vietnamese civilians by US Troops in 1968 or the complaints of increasing sexual assaults at the military academies once women were allowed to attend.

Military and police officers are cousins in arms; they have different mission statements yet run parallel in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately members of law enforcement and the military are human and in bondage to sin. They are no more and no less sinful than pastors or priests, doctors, accountants, teachers or members of any other profession. Each has some of the best and sadly some of the worst. I believe that the majority of cops are honest, brave, respectful, empathetic, compassionate, trust worthy and faithful to their communities and the parameters of how to do their job without doing harm to others. 

These are truly trying and challenging times and I believe the most important time in my life when one has to take a stand. We need to be able to articulate where we stand, as in standing for justice, equality and freedom, but perhaps more important is who do you stand with? There are individuals who in this moment I cannot stand with. Those who continue to use language that demeans others. Those who say they don’t see the problem. Those who would take unfair advantage of someone because of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or stand by and allow it to happen in their presence. I do not care if those individuals are friends, family members, politicians, police officers, colleagues or members of my congregation. I will not stand with those who think they are better, or who do harm to others. It is time to speak out and take a stand for justice, freedom and equality for all people. I ask that you support me in this endeavor and I ask your forgiveness if I have ever made you feel inferior, less than or insignificant because of who you are. 

A prayer for police officers:

Loving Father, thank you that you are always with us. We pray for police officers and ask that they would know your presence is with them as they face the challenges and demands of their job. When their work feels overwhelming, we ask that you would bring peace and clarity of mind. There is no purer source of peace and joy than you, Lord. You alone are worthy to receive our honor and worship for eternity. We exalt your powerful name above all other powers on the earth. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen. [ prayer taken from the internet ]

The Rev. Ellen Meissgeier