Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Wreaths at Arlington are a Gift of Love

This one won't be as spiritual as some, I guess. But maybe my patriotism is catching up to my age. :)

You may be interested to know that these wreaths, laid at gravesites in Arlington National Cemetary-- some 5,000 -- are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington , Maine . The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He's done this since 1992. A wonderful guy. Also, most years, groups of Maine school kids combine an educational trip to DC with this event to help out. Making this even more remarkable is the fact that Harrington is in one the poorest parts of the state.

I couldn't help but relate this touching story to the fact that 2000 plus years ago, in a stable in a little town called Bethlehem......not the capital city of Jerusalem. In a stable.....not in a palace gilded with fine gold. Wrapped in torn cloth.......not in fine linen from the Orient, a Savior was born. From a poor family, from a questionable situation, a donation was made. Scripture tells us that God gave His only begotten son.

An interesting fact that I read into this story is that the Bible tells us God is love. Jesus is God, manifest in flesh. Love was the gift, love was born on Christmas Day. Out of a poor beginning, from a heart full of love for humanity sprang the greatest gift that was ever given on any Christmas. Oh, I know. Love existed before that first Christmas day. But the essence of true love became evident that star-lit night when the angel so proudly proclaimed that unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given. See, God had been what love is for centuries, and had loved his creation since he first scraped up the first handful of dust and began to sculpt into existence his plan to redeem us. Love wasn't shown in the cost it took to make man, we are dust and to dust we will return.

Love manifests itself, not in the expense of the gift that is given, but in the care that is given in choosing the gift itself. Redemption was the gift that was born that day. The Savior, giftwrapped in humanity, just dirt really, but it wasn't the cost of the wrappping, it was the contents of the heart of God. WOW.............no greater love hath any man than this, that a man will lay down his life for a friend. Jesus did that for me, what a gift. My redemption, my salvation.

No wonder pride swells in the hearts of Americans when we see what Merrill Worcester has done for the brave men and women who have laid down their lives for our freedom. No wonder
we stand in silent wonder as we watch the tireless efforts of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in all kinds of weather. Soldiers prepared to defend the defenseless against all enemies both foreign and domestic.

Christmas is a time, at least for me, of reflection. Reflection on gifts, and giving, love and sharing. I'm proud to be an American, to stand beside men like Merrill Wordester and say, "This is my Country." And, I'm thankful to be able to say, "I'm a Christian. Jesus is my Savior."

Humble beginning, I was there; questionable surroundings, that was me; tattered garments, I wore them, but Jesus paid it all. And just like the old song of the Church says, All to Him I owe.

The great gift of love in Arlington is awesome, thank you Merrill Worcester for your love for this country and for your unslefish giving to the fallen soldiers who defend us. But his gift pales in comparison to the day love was born, the gift of love was given to me.

Thank you Jesus for the gift of love on that first Christmas night. Thank you angels for proclaiming this glorious story, you started a story that has never died. Thank you sheperds for seeking the Savior, you led the way for us. And thank you friend for being wise, for wise men really do still seek Him.

Merry Christmas


Philip Harrelson said...

Brother Long,

Good Post!

Merry Christmas to you too!!!

God Bless,

Jackie Jo :0) said...

Bishop Long, you have grasped what some can't even fathom :0) Thank you for such a beautiful post. I love God, not just for wrapping Himself in the flesh to come save me, but just simply because He is God; just for beeing who He is.