The Sermon I was not allowed to Preach


In my previous post, I related an incident where and invitation to pray and to preach had been withdrawn.  The invitation was to pray at breakfast and to preach at the Sunday service during the Remembrance Day commemorations in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  It is ironic that the theme of the sermon was from Psalm 133 “Behold how good it is when brother dwells together in unity.”  Here is the sermon that was never preached.


Brothers (and sisters) living in unity.

I am truly honored to be standing here before you and bringing you some meditative thoughts on Psalm 133.  I am reminded of the photo taken at one of the reunions of the soldiers, from both sides that fought here on these sacred grounds.  In the picture, two elderly gentlemen, one in blue and one in gray, reach across a stone wall, at the high water mark of the battle, and shake hands.  Previously these men had been enemies, and now, in the photo, they were uniting as brothers.

I do not know who these two men are and perhaps their names are lost to history.  I do not know what units they served with or what ranks they held during their time of service, all I know is they came together, as brothers, on that day in 1938 and shook hands as brothers and as Americans.  Perhaps the war had lived on for these two gentlemen after the last shot had been fired and this handshake was truly the end of the war for them.  By this handshake, they began to live together in unity, and their personal healing perhaps commenced on that day at that moment.

The writer of the Psalm reminds us that it is pleasing to God and humanity when we all live together in unity. But unity among brethren, whether civil or religious, is productive both of profit and pleasure. Of profit, because it benefits the welfare and security of every society; of pleasure because mutual love is the source of delight and the happiness of one becomes, in that case, the happiness of all.  We are commanded to love our neighbor, and we accomplish this by living in unity.  When the people of God come together in unity behind a shared vision or goal, it is a beautiful and powerful thing.

Remembrance Day is that time when we get together, North and South, East and West to commemorate those who died here not only at Gettysburg but all of those who dies during the time of the, in the words of President Lincoln, “the Great Civil War.”  The records indicate that almost 51,000 men perished during those three days of battle in July of 1863 many of whom are buried not far from this place.  We come not to glorify war, but we come to honor the sacrifice of those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” and to pray for peace not only in our world but in our own lives.

On that November day of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln reminded us of our task, our duty as the living and how we can honor the lives lost here on the battlefield.”

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

“We take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave their last full measure.” That cause was union, that cause was freedom for all people, and that cause is ours today and every day.  We owe it to those who fought here, and we owe it to those who died here that we fight the good fight and that we continue to struggle for that unity that the writer of Psalm envisioned for all people.

How good it is when brothers (and sisters) live together in unity.

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