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Honor guards and ultimate solidarity

We were at our gate in the Raleigh-Durham airport when it was announced that our plane would be transporting the body of a fallen soldier. The honor guard was there at the gate and we were asked to stand and be silent while they performed their duties. It was a powerful moment. Airports are normally overflowing with hustle and bustle and since this was Easter weekend it was even more so than usual. Nonetheless, at the announcement everything stopped. There was silence while the soldiers conducted their brief ceremony.

I thought about how great it was that in a world so bent upon everyone being different, different, different—we shared a moment of solidarity. We need more of this. We’re so busy with our diversity that we forget about what makes us the United States of America. For a brief moment in that airport we were one in our desire to show our respect and honor to a soldier who given his life for our country.

During the flight I thought about other times when people come together in solidarity. Funerals and weddings came to mind, as did graduations and to some degree a holiday like the Fourth of July. Tragedies bring us together as well triumphs (think of the Olympic Games). But the list is small and seems to be dwindling.

What brought us together at the airport was a soldier who made a sacrifice on our behalf. In essence that’s what the Christian faith is about—Someone who made the ultimate sacrifice not on behalf of a community or even a country, but for the whole world. It’s not about so much of the other stuff that tends to grab the headlines, the good news is “that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

I know that’s the case because every Sunday disciples all over the planet are called together not to celebrate their stand of this issue or that, but to share a “meal” of unleavened bread and grape juice. In doing this they are proclaiming the death of Jesus for the world (1 Corinthians 11:26). To someone who knows nothing about the Christian faith, this observance must seem strange and even foolish, but to those of faith it is a memorial done to honor Christ.

But it is more than that. The Supper is also a powerful statement about disciples’ oneness (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Though we live in different parts of the world, speak different languages, have different skin colors, and may never see each other in this life—there is a transcendent unity in Jesus that binds us together.

In the name of Christ I have been welcomed by people who were complete strangers. I have sat at their tables, stayed in their homes and experienced the richest of hospitality. This is life as it is supposed to be where we aren’t afraid, intimidated or alone—we’re accepted. This is the solidarity that God calls the world to through Jesus. If it sounds too good to be true, let me assure you it’s too good not to be true. 

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