CD: Veterans’ Unmarked Graves Get New Chance at Tombstones

Nice. And a great teacher, that LaRue.


This year’s rule change, he said, “is going to help make sure a lot of veterans in neglected or unmarked graves get a chance to have their service recognized.”

The new change also means that work like that of retired Washington Court House history teacher Paul LaRue can continue. Beginning in 2001, his classes researched the unmarked graves of veterans. When the headstones were dilapidated, destroyed or missing, they would order new ones. In 2013, the rule change abruptly stopped his work. He was one of those to testify in support of Stivers’ request.

LaRue, 57, retired in 2014 but is still doing workshops to encourage history teachers to embrace historic preservation in the classroom.

“I’m amazed when I see students who have been out of school now for quite a while, and they still remember, ‘I helped with that headstone,’” he said. “We did this with a great sense of pride.”

Read it all.

A Prayer for Memorial Day

Adapted from here:

Eternal God,
Creator of years, of centuries,
Lord of whatever is beyond time,
Maker of all species and master of all history —
How shall we speak to you
from our smallness and inconsequence?
Except that you have called us to worship you in spirit and in truth;
You have dignified us with loves and loyalties;
You have lifted us up with your loving-kindnesses.
Therefore we are bold to come before you without groveling
(though we sometimes feel that low)
and without fear
(though we are often anxious).
We sing with spirit and pray with courage
because you have dignified us;
You have redeemed us from the aimlessness
of things going meaninglessly well.

God, lift the hearts of those
for whom this holiday is not just diversion,
but painful memory and continued deprivation.
Bless those whose dear ones have died
needlessly, wastefully (as it seems)
in accident or misadventure.
We remember with compassion and thanksgiving those who have died
serving this country in times of war.

We all must come to bereavement and separation,
when all the answers we are offered
fail the question death asks of each of us.
But we believe that you will provide for us
as others have been provided with the fulfillment of
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”
because we believe that you have raised Jesus our Lord from the dead
and conquered death itself,
and that you have given us the privilege
of sharing in his risen life as his followers,
both now and for all eternity.
We offer our prayers and thanksgiving
in Jesus our risen Lord’s name. Amen.

Traditional Memorial Day

Today we celebrate Memorial Day, which happens to fall this year on the traditional day for Memorial Day. It was originally called “Decoration Day.” Up until the 1971 it was always celebrated today. But afterward it has become a movable federal holiday. You can read about its history here, and I hope you will take the time to do so. On a personal note, my grandparents Shaffer were married on this day in 1917. Cool.

Take a moment today to remember those who have given their lives so that we might enjoy the freedom we have. Take time to remember the current members of our armed forces as well and give thanks that God continues to raise up brave men and women to serve our country in a very dangerous world.

Thank you veterans, past and present, for your service to our country. May God bless you and yours.

Remembering on the Memorial Day

Memorial Day PictureI am remembering today the men and women who serve and have served our country, and who have given their lives for this nation.

I am thankful for my own grandfathers, John S. Maney and F. Earl Shaffer, who fought in WWI.

I am thankful for my father, John F. Maney, and my uncle, W. Everett Jones, who fought in Europe during WWII.

I am thankful for my father-in-law, Donald E. Traylor, who served in Germany during the Korean War.

I am thankful for my dear friend and brother in Christ, John Falor, who fought in Vietnam, as well as my friends, Tod Tapola and Jim Lytle, who also fought there.

I am thankful for Colonel David Mullins who fought in Iraq.

Thank you all, and thank God for continuing to raise up men and women who are willing to serve and sacrifice for our country to keep us free.

General Orders No. 11, Washington DC, May 5, 1868

From here.

  1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit. 


Adjutant General


Read the entire order that started Memorial Day.

Deacon Terry Gatwood: What’s Worth Remembering?

Sermon delivered on Trinity 1C, Sunday, May 29, 2016, at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you’d prefer to listen to the audio podcast of this sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: 1 Kings 18.20-39; Psalm 96.1-13; Galatians 1.1-12; Luke 7.1-10.

This weekend many of you have or will enjoy time with family and friends outside, taking in the beautiful scenery God has given to us, grilling out and remembering those who can’t be with us anymore. It’s a weird sort of holiday, as it’s typically filled with joy, but set against the backdrop of those who have given there lives in service to others.

I come from a family with scattered military traditions. It was always in my mind that I would serve someday if I had the physical ability to do so. After September 11, 2001, I weighed 300 pounds. I knew that the time was right that I should enter a time of national service, but my own laziness in caring for my physical body stood in the way. It took me four years to lose the 120 pounds I needed to, but I stayed committed to what I believed in to do it.

I enlisted in the United States Navy on the same day in 2005 that we buried a young Marine in Obetz. He was a member of 3rd Batallion, 25th Marines, Lima Company, based at Rickenbacker. He was a good kid, and dedicated to joining the Marine Corps from the time he was a boy. I remember him talking about it in high school, and at Rainbow Lanes Bowling Alley in South Columbus when I’d see him working there. And he did as he said he would. He believed in standing up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves, and, if necessary, sacrificing his life for what he believed in and for others.

I knew another guy in that same unit who was killed in combat. He was a young corpsman from Georgia, with a four year old son and daughter on the way, whose job it was to attend to the medical needs of combat casualties, and even give first aid to wounded enemy combatants as rounds continued to fly overhead. He sacrificed his life for those whom he loved, at home and in the theater of combat with him.

I’ve known so many young people with whom I’ve served, and others who served from my hometown and area, who sacrificed their lives for others. Because they threw themselves out there to ensure their friends could survive the day, they died. And they didn’t do these things fool heartedly, but with the full knowledge that this could be the moment of their final breath. The last time they got to feel the hot sun on their faces, or smell the scents around them. It was the last time they were going to see their friends, whom they loved, and they stood up to sacrifice for them anyway.

I also am reminded today of spending a week on Iwo Jima in 2007. I was the chaplain’s assistant for Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, and we were embarked on the USS Harper’s Ferry underway for the annual Battle of Iwo Jima memorial service. Iwo Jima is nothing more than a little porkchop shaped volcanic island in the middle of the sea, far away from anything else resembling civilization. The battle there was terrible. 26,000 Americans were wounded, with 6,800 of them ultimately dying from their wounds.  Upwards of 18,375 Japanese soldiers perished during this same battle. It was a terrible scene in its time, now replaced by controlled tourism by the Japanese government. The evidence of what happened that day is still apparent, but it is now a place where peace is honored and cherished.

I met a man that day called James Ward. James was part of the invasion of Iwo Jima. He was very old by the time I met him, and sadly, I have learned that he has now passed. When I first saw him he was standing on the black sand beaches looking towards Mount Suribachi. I recognized the look on his face as the look of the man remembering a painful past. I walked down the hill to greet him, and he asked me to help him storm the beach just one last time. So, with his cane in one hand, and his other hand on my shoulder we walked up the sandy hillside towards the flat part of the island in the same place he had run with full rucksack unaided 62 years ago. He told me some things on the slow walk up the hill that day that I can’t but think about during times of the year such as this: “We will sacrifice for who or what we love. All will have to make sacrifices in their lives, so make sure it’s the right sacrifice for the right thing.” He wasn’t ashamed of what happened during that battle, but he had grown wise in his thinking about it.

Thinking about his wise words I cannot help but think about the cross of Jesus Christ. There was a sacrifice made there, to be sure, and it was once done for those whom Jesus loved, for the right thing.

In the Gospel of Saint Luke we read about Jewish elders in Capernaum coming to ask Jesus to come and heal the Gentile servant of a Roman centurion. They believed that this centurion was worthy of this since he was a kind man to them, and even built them a synagogue. As Jesus comes along towards the home of the Roman man friends of the centurion met him. These friends told Jesus, “he doesn’t believe he is worthy of even having you, Jesus, under his roof; I didn’t come to you myself because I am not worthy of even speaking with you. But, if you only speak the word that she will be healed, healed she will be. I am a man under authority, and I have other soldiers under me. When I tell one to come or go, he comes or goes. If I tell someone to do something, they do it.”

Jesus listened carefully to this line of reasoning and remarks, turning around all the way and looking into the eyes of the crowd of people who were following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” At that moment the servant was found in good health.

This is but a part of the good news that Paul writes about in his opening of the letter to the Galatians. Jesus Christ is who he said he is, did the things that have been reported to you by eyewitnesses and by Paul, and has opened to us the ability to live in the ultimate reality in the world that is imagined in the text. This is a world of faith and trust, of pure and holy love, a world where we are no longer slaves to sin and death, but rather are now made alive in Jesus Christ to live a new life. It is a life where we now have access to the grace of God that leads us towards repentance and salvation in faith. And this is all made possible, all of it, by a sacrifice.

Many of the people I’ve spoken about this morning gave their lives as sacrifices for their friends. And Jesus gives himself as a sacrifice for his. But that’s where the comparison ends. As noble and worthy of remembering as the sacrifices of our fallen military members may be, they gave themselves for a temporary cause. And many others have had to, and will again have to, repeat these kinds of sacrifices on battlefields until Christ comes. But the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is not merely a sacrifice to help others; Christ’s sacrifice is the one sacrifice that had to be done for all people, and only once. The sacrifice of Jesus is the sacrificing of Jesus on an altar shaped like a cross, where he bled and died for you, and for me, to save us from slavery to sin, to make us holy by his blood, and to bring us into his Kingdom for eternity right now, in this place where we live in Central Ohio.  Here are two doxological statements for you to remember: “Jesus is Lord,” and, “Jesus saves.” This is the gospel in five words.

And so we must consider more the letter of Paul. In verse 6 he is absolutely astonished that some are turning from the gospel that they first came to, and now they are turning to some other gospel—which is really no gospel at all!

I’m sure that many of you have been sitting in your homes on the couch resting, or sipping an ice cold drink out on your porch when you’ve been visited by the guys in black slacks, white shirts, and black ties. Typically they’ll be on bikes with backpacks and want to talk to you about another “testament about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Or maybe it was the well dressed man and woman inviting you to their Kingdom Hall for a “free lecture” on some interesting topic concerning Jesus or heaven or whatever else they’re discussing that day. Obviously I’m speaking of Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They preach about Jesus, but in the end they preach a faith that cannot save. For in the LDS faith Jesus is merely one of a pantheon of gods, and for the JW’s Jesus is a created being, originally existing as Archangel Michael. They do not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, but opt for a “spiritual resurrection” in a non-material state. Both emphasize works based salvation. The denial of God’s self-revelation of God as Trinity, eternal co-existence, means that what they preach is a gospel that has no power to save. It is empty and dead, even if it has attractive bits attached to it.

Jesus is our sacrifice. Jesus is THE sacrifice. Jesus, the one who was dead, but now is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us, is absolutely and entirely God. And the Holy Spirit continues his ministry on the earth even to this very moment that we share together in this room. The Holy Spirit reminds us while reading the Scriptures together here and alone at home, through the preaching and teaching of the Church, and through holy conversation with each other, rooted and grounded in the foundational truth that Jesus Christ is who he claimed to be, does what he claims he would do, and we are his people whom he has called together. And when one person of the Trinity is doing his work, all three are doing the work.

James Ward is one of those men whom Christ called. And so is Andrew Colvin, the priest I was serving under that day on Iwo Jima. We held a memorial Eucharist atop Mount Suribachi, where James, myself, a handful of other vets and active duty members, and several Japanese veterans of the battle participated in the sacrament at the Lord’s Table together. Enemies no longer; brothers forever, united by the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, of which there is no substitute. When we begun praying the great thanksgiving together, voices united in different languages and accents blending together in common worship, I began to weep. The Gospel is what it claims to be, and does what it claims to do. It is the words of life to us, and it takes men who were slaves to evil and sin and makes them into entirely new creatures in Christ. All of this because of the one great sacrifice made by Christ of himself for all of humanity forever. And this causes me to tremble and want to shout!

96:1 O sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
96:2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
96:3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.
96:4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.
96:5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
96:6 Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
96:7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
96:8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.
96:9 Worship the LORD in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.
96:10 Say among the nations, “The LORD is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.”
96:11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
96:12 let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
96:13 before the LORD; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.

1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
1:4 who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
1:5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Family Duties on Memorial Day

Our nation will observe Memorial Day this year on the same day we traditionally observed it until 1971—May 30. Thankfully our family did not lose anybody to war, although my grandfathers and dad fought in World War I and II respectively. So in addition to remembering those brave men and women who fought and died to preserve our country’s freedom, I have made this weekend a time for both remembering those in my family who have died and honoring them.

Since they are no longer living, I have decided that on my watch their graves will be well kept and in good repair. So my wife and I go out and trim around the tombstones, rake the graves, clean them up, and put flowers on them for the summer. Doing so is a way for me to continue to honor them, both for being such a good family and for their service to our country.

At Woodland cemetery.

At Woodland cemetery.

It also reminds me of how fleeting and transient this mortal life is. When I was a kid, we’d spend Memorial Day at the lake at my grandparents Shaffer’s cottage with my extended family. It was a grand time and I have great memories of those halcyon days. Now I only have their graves to visit and I confess I liked it a whole lot better when I was able to be with them at the lake.

So Memorial Day is a bittersweet time for me. But as long as I am able, I will continue to honor my family on this holiday, in part, by caring for their grave sites. It is the least I can do considering all they did and sacrificed for me.

May you too find ways to honor and love your loved ones, especially if you are blessed enough to have them still be living.

Giving Thanks for the Methodists in My Life

On this feast day of John and Charles Wesley, I am thankful for John Wesley and my Methodist heritage, even though I have returned to the mother Church and am now an Anglican priest. I am especially thankful that God blessed me with Dr. Paul Chiles, Dr. Phil Webb, Rev. Ron Payne, and Rev. Bill Patterson. Each of these men served as ministers in the Methodist churches I attended in Van Wert, Perrysburg, and Toledo, and each had a profound influence on my spiritual development.

And of course I am thankful for my parents who were faithful Methodists all their married lives and who hauled me off to church every Sunday. 🙂

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John and Charles Wesley

A day to remember two of my favorite theologians. John especially is one of my personal heroes.

From here:

The Wesley brothers, born in 1703 and 1707, were leaders of the evangelical revival in the Church of England in the eighteenth century. They both attended Oxford University , and there they gathered a few friends with whom they undertook a strict adherence to the worship and discipline of the Book of Common Prayer, from which strict observance they received the nickname, “Methodists.” Having been ordained, they went to the American colony of Georgia in 1735, John as a missionary and Charles as secretary to Governor Oglethorpe. They found the experience disheartening, and returned home in a few years. There, three days apart, they underwent a conversion experience. John, present with a group of Moravians who were reading Martin Luther‘s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, received a strong emotional awareness of the love of Christ displayed in freely forgiving his sins and granting him eternal life. Following this experience, John and Charles, with others, set about to stir up in others a like awareness of and response to the saving love of God. Of the two, John was the more powerful preacher, and averaged 8000 miles of travel a year, mostly on horseback. At the time of his death he was probably the best known and best loved man in England.

Read it all.

Lord God, who inspired your servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and endowed them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in your Church, we entreat you, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known Christ may turn to him and be saved; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

John Wesley’s Aldersgate Experience

John WesleyToday marks the 278th anniversary of Fr. John Wesley’s Aldersgate Experience, in which his heart was “strangely warmed” and which changed the course of the Methodist movement forever. I was a Methodist for the first 50 years of my life and am proud of that heritage. It is a sad testimony to the human condition that Wesley’s followers eventually split from the Church of England. But that does not take away the fact that Wesley and his movement came from the great umbrella that is the Anglican Tradition and we are the better for it.

Wednesday, May 24, [1738]. I think it was about five this morning, that I opened my Testament on those words, “There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature.” ( 2 Peter 1:4.) Just as I went out, I opened it again on those words, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” In the afternoon I was asked to go to St. Paul’s. The anthem was, “Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. O let thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint. If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it? For there is mercy with thee; therefore shalt thou be feared. O Israel, trust in the Lord: For with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his sins.” In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate-Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation: And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there, what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, “This cannot be faith; for where is thy joy?” Then was I taught, that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation: But that, as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth them, according to the counsels of his own will. After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations; but cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and He “sent me help from his holy place.” And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I was always conqueror.

—John Wesley, Journal

Fr. Carretto Waxes Eloquent on the Mystery of God

See what you think.

Then we come to understand the dimensions of heaven; then we see things as they really are, and we see God as really God!

But then, too, we realize that this cannot last, that in order to keep its gratuitous quality, the fragrance of that hour must be paid for in a harsh and severe way.

Perhaps because it would all be too beautiful?
Perhaps because contemplation would destroy the roots of action?
Perhaps because you would never again get anything done, as though you were on too perfect a honeymoon?
Perhaps because heaven would start here and now, whereas the way is still long, and possession of the Beloved is feeble?
Yes, all this and many other things are true.

But there is one other thing which seems to me still more true, and I understood it only very late:
You would not be free any longer.
And God is terribly concerned about your freedom in loving him.
He knows that you can be suffocated by the greatness and the quantity of his gifts.
It is difficult to make a marriage between two persons who are in such different circumstances.
He brings you his all, while you can only bring him your nothing.
How can one set about reconciling such differences?
How can he be certain that you are not seeking him out of self-interest?
That you are not going to him only because you have found no one else?
That you are not going to him for the pleasure you get out of it?
That would be too easy and too shallow a love.

When the Bible says that God is a jealous God, it is speaking truly.

But God’s jealousy is not like ours. He is jealous because he is afraid that, instead of loving him in his naked being, we love his creation, his riches, his gifts, the joy he bestows, the peace he brings, and Truth he makes us a present of.

God is not only jealous in his love. He is tragic. Before making you his, before letting himself be possessed, he  tears you to shreds—rather, he makes history tear you to shreds…

For much of my life, I asked myself why God acted in such a strange way.
Why is he silent so long? Why is faith so bitter?
He can do everything, so why does he not reveal himself to us in a more sensational way?

What would it cost him to come out into the streets, among those who cry “God does not exist,” give a hard slap to the noisiest, and say—better still, shout—”Don’t believe these fools! I am here indeed! To convince you, let’s make an appointment to meet tomorrow evening in Leningrad’s museum of atheism. You’ll see what I’ll do! I’ll crush you and reduce you to souvenir envelopes!”

But it seems that God does his best to remain silent, as if to demonstrate that he does not exist, that it is useless for us to follow him, that we would do better if we went all out to possess the earth.

And are there not those who, when faced with his silence, convince themselves that he does not exist? And are there not others who are scandalized merely by the way the world goes?

If God exists, why evil? If God is love, why sorrow?
If God is a Father, why death?
If I have knocked, why has he not opened to me?
I used to think all this and more, when I was new to this school.

But then, walking patiently, not allowing myself to become frightened off by the first difficulties, hounding his door with the determination of a man on a hunger strike, and, above all, believing his gospel true and unrelenting, I began to see the way things are, I began to discover how God goes about what he is doing, I began to distinguish his stealthy footsteps….

It was for him to open it, not me, always in a hurry.

Sin lies in Adam’s haste, and my lust for possession is stronger than my true love for him. Wait! Oh, the anguish of that “wait,” the emptiness of that absence!

But then, little by little, I began to understand, as never before, that he was present in the emptiness, in the waiting.

—Carlo Carretto, The God Who Comes