National Chaplain's Message
National Chaplain of The American Legion
Dear fellow Department Chaplains,
Advent is the season of waiting - what are we waiting for? A virgin shall be with child and that child shall be called Emmanuel "God is with us!" Little children are waiting for Santa to bring them toys and all the fun things that will entertain them for a few hours. We await the gift from on high that will last a lifetime - that will live on in eternity. We await salvation from our sinful lives. We await for the Prince of Peace that will bring a longed-for peace on earth in a world filled with anger, vengeance and war among nations. We await a renewed spirit of joy and happiness in our lives and among the members of our families and friends. Maranatha - come Lord Jesus.
Hanukkah the festival of lights that celebrates the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. The daily lighting of the eight candles is a celebration of life - new life in the Lord Yahweh. And the children play the game of dreidel while singing songs of joy and celebration while enjoying special oil-based foods like latkes and sufganiyot, and dairy foods. It truly is a festive celebration for our Jewish brothers and sisters.
The time of waiting is over on the feast of Christmas when the Christian community celebrates the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the form of a little innocent baby. He is the one to come - the one we have long awaited to bring about the salvation of our sins - the salvation of a warring corrupt world. And even as a little child, Jesus brought about controversy in his time when Herod feeling threatened about his own authority was forewarned by the Magi that there was one that was born that would be greater than him. In his fear he orders all babies two years and younger to be slaughtered while Joseph leads Mary and Jesus to flee into Egypt to be saved from Herod's ill-conceived wrath.
And so baby Jesus becomes a contradiction in his life from the beginning of his life. The battle between good and evil begins with him - the battle between war and peace continues throughout the ages. We must remember that we are always in daily battle between these opposing forces in our daily lives. We must keep our eyes on the Lord and bask in God's love for us even when the forces of evil try to sway us away from the Lord. Keep your eyes and hearts focused on Him who created us and who calls us constantly to himself.
January 1st is traditionally dedicated to the World Day of Peace. I leave you with this prayer. May you all be blessed abundantly in the God who calls us to Himself through his Son, Jesus our Lord.
Father of Jesus,
You who sent your angels to herald your Son's coming with cries of peace,
Hear our cry now
That your peace may touch all corners of our world.
Peace to the smallest child, still in the womb.
Peace to the most vulnerable of our elderly, who long to see your face.
Peace to the migrant fleeing war, persecution. Hunger and poverty.
Peace to those touched by violence and disaster,
By storms and quakes and droughts and floods,
Who struggle to find safety and mercy in the very world you made for us.
You whose Son called all peacemakers blessed,
Help us forge peace in your name.
Peace among nations,
Peace among neighbors,
Peace among families.
When we look back on this time
May we recall it as the time we all heard the angels' cry
And worked together to reveal that peace to all.
A peace worthy of God, born into the world.
Father Philip G. Salois, M.S.