Looking at Lent: Sacrifice


This afternoon we took Kelsey with us and visited the USS Arizona here at Pearl Harbor. Since Dave and I lived in the D.C./Annapolis area for over 30 years, we have visited many monuments and memorials. Yet none moves me quite like the USS Arizona, resting place for over 2000 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice on December 7, 1941.

As the launch approaches the memorial, a soul-hush hovers within me. This cemetery still expels oil, the black tears that flow for the dead whom we honor here. This afternoon we will hear the USNA Women’s Glee Club offer a musical tribute as they harmonize “The Navy Hymn.” And our long-time friend, Cindy Bauchspies will direct the glee club members.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

The USNA Glee Club sings this hymn in the presence of a Pearl Harbor Survivor, Sterling Cale, a Navy corpsman who, on Dec. 7, 1941, was in charge of the burial party removing bodies from the Arizona.

He and 10 other men were detailed to recover the dead on the battleship, and he recalled seeing ashes blowing off the ship that he realized had been men.”The Arizona burned for 2 1/2 days. A lot of these men burned right down to the deck,” he said. “But I didn’t have anything, and I couldn’t stop the ashes (from blowing away). I just sort of sank down, and I shed a few tears.”

In the singing of verse two, I heard the deep theme of sacrifice.

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

He who created the sea, calmed the sea, and will recreate a new heavens and earth made the most ultimate sacrifice. He died without any sin and chose to impute His righteousness to wretched sinners worldwide.

When the last scheduled launch headed back to shore, Dave, Kelsey and I stayed and waited for Cindy, Todd and the USNA Women’s Glee Club to arrive after their tour of the entire harbor. Suddenly, we stood there with only seven others, either Navy personnel or Park Service Rangers.

While Dave occupied Kelsey, I looked up from the bench where I sat. There, the soul-saving God whose voice I”ve never heard audibly, painted His rainbow over the hillside, reminding me of His sacrifice for me afresh this Lenten season.

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