By Tiffany Silverberg
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) Ministry to the Armed Forces (MAF) and Mission Advancement departments are making resources available to help LCMS congregations recognize Armed Forces Sunday on May 19. The deadline for ordering the resources is March 4.
The resources are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limited number to be printed. Congregations with valid LCMS email addresses have received emails with ordering instructions. Those congregations who are unable to order by the deadline may be provided the opportunity to print their own. Congregations can place an order by responding to their emails or visiting lcms.org/armedforces/resources/maf-bulletin.
In addition to bulletin inserts with program information about LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces, the resources include:
- a letter from MAF Director Chaplain Craig Muehler;
- a responsive prayer;
- ministry-by-mail registration forms;
- sermon notes and resources for pastors and worship leaders; and
- a remittance form for donations.
This year’s observance focuses on Eph. 6:10–11: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
Armed Forces Sunday gives congregations an opportunity to thank God for and acknowledge current service members, including chaplains and active duty, reserve and National Guard members connected with the congregation, as well as veterans in the congregation who have served in the Armed Forces. In this way, congregations are able to recognize a vocation that often touches many members and sometimes the congregation as a whole.
“Ministry to the Armed Forces has always had a special and unique connection with our LCMS congregations,” explains Muehler. “It is their members who selflessly volunteer to serve our nation in the military. It is their members who reach out with the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are military-connected in their communities.
“Without their support, this vital ministry wouldn’t be possible. Our congregations provide prayers, pastors, financial support, donations for the troops and veteran community-outreach opportunities.”
Chaplain Brian Hamer, of 11th Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, agrees that congregational support is vital to the MAF and the chaplaincy around the world. The materials, he says, “present congregations and individuals with a chance to support our ministry to the military through prayers, financial offerings and the formation of Operation Barnabas chapters in the local parish.”
Hamer adds, “To support MAF is to support your chaplains. To support your chaplains is to help to make Christ present around the world for countless service members who trust in the Lord of Hosts.”
The LCMS currently supports over 150 chaplains, including 65 on active duty, 42 in reserve components, 18 National Guard members, 33 Civil Air Patrol members, and two directors of Religious Education for the Army.
“The local congregation is the strong beating heart of faith that reaches into the community,” says Chaplain Steven Hokana, assistant director of MAF. “It is from the Church the gifts of the Lord Christ flow: the proclamation of Law and Gospel, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the forgiveness of sins.”
Hokana continues, “There is no better place on earth, armed and equipped, to transform the lives of veterans, and all [who are] military-connected, with the Good News of Jesus. We should remember and love our veterans and their families every day of the year … [but] especially on May 19, Armed Forces Sunday.”
While congregations are encouraged to observe Armed Forces Sunday to remember this vocation, they may also choose other opportunities, such as Memorial Day, Independence Day or Veterans Day, to do so.
For more information about LCMS Ministry to the Armed forces, visit lcms.org/ministry-to-the-armed-forces.
Tiffany Silverberg is a freelance writer and copy editor who covers a range of topics.
Posted Feb. 8, 2019