“Rest and Reflect” Rev. Dr. Jonathan Miller

WAY #22  Rest and Reflect
THIS WEEKEND WE STEP BACK from our daily responsibilities for two reasons. First, we honor God by remembering today is the Lord’s Day. Secondly, Memorial Day is set apart by our nation to remind us of those who have given their lives for the cause of freedom.
Richard Manning is well known for a number of books written about what he would call ‘God’s wild love.’ When he became a Roman Catholic priest he was asked to take the name of a saint. His best friend was a man named Ray Brennan. They grew up together, went to the same school, played ball — did everything together. In 1952 they enlisted in the Marine Corps and were sent to Korea. It was a typical combat day in cold Korea when the unthinkable happened. A live grenade was thrown into the foxhole where the two men sat. Manning said he remembered everything in that shocking moment. Ray was eating a Hershey Bar. When the grenade landed his buddy dropped the candy and looked quickly at his friend. A smile crossed his face and then he smothered the grenade with his body. He gave his life for his friend.
Because of this, when he became a priest, Manning took the last name of his friend (the `saint’ who saved his life) and made it his first. For the rest of his life Richard Manning was known as Brennan Manning. Years later Brennan Manning visited his best friend’s mother in Brooklyn. They were talking about Ray. Brennan said, `We never really talked about friendship or love. I’ve always wondered what that smile meant at the very end. Did he really love me?’ Ray’s mother was quick to respond, `Richard — of course he loved you, he gave his life for you.’ Manning never forgot what she said. A year later Father Manning was struggling with alcohol and he had a dream, a nightmare really. The broken priest was standing in his dream at the foot of the cross, where Jesus hung. He was overwhelmed and he saw the mother of Jesus off to the side. Through his tears he cried, `Mother Mary — do you think He really loves me?’ Mary looked at the cross then looked at Brennan Manning, `Oh my son, of course He loves you. Look at him. He’s dying for you, so that you might live!’
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8). With love for this congregation and its leadership, and also for those who have loved for the sake of freedom!
Semper Fi
Jonathan Miller