July 4, 2013
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Romans 13:7
On this July Fourth allow me to introduce you to Andrew Pawelczyk, who plays the cymbals at Eisenhower Junior High School in Darien, Illinois.
At the band's end-of-the-school-year concert, the group began with the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." This arrangement had Pawelczyk clanging his cymbals together at the end of every other line. It was impressive and it was loud.
Then the unthinkable happened.
When the band got to the "bombs bursting in air," the strap on one of Pawelczyk's cymbals broke. He held the strap, but the cymbal clattered to the floor. The broken strap left him with only one cymbal and, as we all know, it's hard to get a good clang out of one cymbal.
Now there are a lot of things a junior high cymbal player can do when a broken strap puts him out of commission. He can run off the stage; he can start laughing; he can start crying; he can throw the other cymbal at the laughing drummer.
Pawelczyk did none of those things. The video of the event shows what happened. His eyes got big at what had just happened; he looked around and then he looked to his director for guidance. Then he set the other cymbal on the ground, did a quarter turn, and saluted the flag. He held that salute until the end of the anthem.
Later on, Pawelczyk explained, "My family is very patriotic. My grandfather was in the Korean War. He taught me to salute the flag." The word Pawelczyk is searching for is "respect." In a world where equality has replaced authority and the good of the one outweighs the good of the many, respect is a commodity which is in pretty short supply.
Still, according to St. Paul, respect is one of the more public things which Christians do.
You understand there are some things -- things like Baptism and Communion and formal worship -- which we pretty much do amongst ourselves. But paying taxes and giving respect and honor to the proper parties is something we do, so everyone can realize that just because the Savior is first in our lives that doesn't mean we are going to shirk our responsibility to be good citizens.
This takes me to confession time. (Maybe you will join me.) I have to confess there are times when my words have not respected or honored those who are in authority.
That changes today.
Why? I want my grandchildren to say, "We learned how to show respect from grandpa."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, because I have received the love of the Savior, may I honor Him by giving respect and honor to all whom it is due. In the Savior's Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries