This week in our online service I'm in conversation with Major The Reverend Michael Gibbons or, as I like to call him, Mike. Mike was the class clown when we were at theological college together from 2001-2005, always ready with a joke or a witticism because he was too smart and the work was too easy. I wasn't surprised at all to hear that after our graduation he decided to join the military as a chaplain. Finally, a challenge! He's since served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In 2014 he was aboard a military supply ship 600km out of Pearl Harbor when the engine room caught fire, disabling the ship's power and stranding it amidst waves in excess of 4 meters. At first, he handed out water and food to the men and women fighting the flames. Then he sat on a bench, and as his crew members took breaks they lined up to talk, wanting an outlet for their anxieties: Would they be okay? If they didn't survive, what would be their legacy? Had they been good and kind?
"Sometimes we are called to be the hope while others are seeking their hope," Mike said to me in our conversation this week. "What people of faith have to offer is an experience of hope," he said. In the end, that's all he offered on that ship - a widow's mite and all he had to live on - his hope.
When it comes to remembrance our most powerful offering as people of faith is what we embody in our very presence as we encounter and engage our world and its people. We are called to be the hope, steady and faithful, for those who need to know that hope exists. Then, when we forget, they will help us to remember.