Faith & Insight: No greater love than this

Brian Underwood

Brian Underwood

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“It’s just what you did,” said the 94-year-old gentleman rather matter of factly to the small crowd congregated around the Southwest Airlines ticket counter late last week. “You didn’t think twice about it.”
Donning a U.S. Navy ball cap and the same red sweatshirt worn by the others gathered around, the spry nonagenarian spoke in a blended tone of humility and responsibility that aroused the group much like the familiar pre-dawn reveille that brought them together with such purpose that early Thursday morning.
Courtesy of the important development work undertaken by Honor Flight Nevada, 43 Northern Nevada veterans with service ranging from the Gulf War to World War II were sponsored on an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the various memorials and remember their brave comrades, so many of whom showed the greatest love of all.
Toward the end of his ministry, Jesus shared the Parable of the Vine and the Branches. The allegory found in Chapter 15 of the Book of John is of a vine and its branches.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5). The vine is the source and sustenance of life, represented in Jesus Christ. The branches are his people, and the branches must abide in the vine to live and bear fruit.
In the days ahead of his betrayal, humiliation, death, and his ultimate victory over the grave, Jesus Christ foreshadowed his death and resurrection that all who would believe in him would not perish but have eternal life.
Further down in the parable, in John 15:13, we see the literal parallel of Christ’s sacrifice and its relation to our military heroes, as well as our first responders who locally put their lives on the line for us every day. The text reads, “ Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
In the warm afterglow of Thursday’s observance of Veterans Day, we continue to give thanks and praise for our active military who take on this calling, understanding the subtext of sacrifice that comes with it. However, the Parable of the Vine and the Branches extends beyond those who physically protect us, and instead to all who would faithfully serve him.
The meaning of "laying down one's life" is an attitude, as well as an action; therefore, as followers of Christ, Christians must be willing to die to sin (Romans 6) and abide in Jesus to emulate his love (John 15:12).
To be willing to die to sin carries the same responsibility of those who commit to lay down their lives for their country – or local county – but without the whim of backing out when things get tough. This is where Christians are called to be soldiers of the cross, and ever faithful to Christ the King who has won the battle so that those who believe in him will live in paradise forever.
In the coming days, the world will pause to remember and celebrate the birth of the one who humbly came in the darkness to be the light of the world and lay down his life as a ransom for many.
In these same days, if you would like to remember a local military family this Advent by making a donation to Trees for Troops, Sierra Lutheran High School and the local chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes will facilitate delivering Christmas trees to the troops at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Coleville on Dec. 4. If you are interested in supporting this, search Trees For Troops – MWTC on
I know well that the 94-year-old veteran, who sailed the outer fringes of the Japanese waters as a teenager during World War II, would have loved that kind of remembrance at Christmas in the same way that he and other Northern Nevada veterans recently relished being honored, courtesy of Honor Flight Nevada.
Thanks for your service, Dad!
God Bless.
Brian Underwood is executive director of Sierra Lutheran High School.


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