March 1 is order deadline for ‘Armed Forces Sunday’

LCMS congregations with email addresses should have received a Jan. 24 email from the Synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces regarding “Armed Forces Sunday” on May 18.

The email is intended to let congregations know that if they want to receive the free packet of resources to celebrate the special Sunday in May, they must place their orders early. The deadline for ordering the resource packet is March 1, and the email includes a link for ordering online.

Beginning Feb. 20, phone calls will be placed to congregations without email addresses so that they, too, may order “Armed Forces Sunday” materials.

A limited number of bulletin inserts will be printed, so orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. But every congregation that orders by the deadline will receive enough materials for their members.

“Armed Forces Sunday” may be celebrated on an alternate Sunday, such as those falling around Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day, or any other Sunday during the year when a congregation chooses to honor those who are serving in the military.

This year’s theme, “Setting the Highest Standard,” is based on Romans 12:9-12.

“Anyone who has served or is serving in the military knows that it is a place where standards and discipline are critical,” says Chaplain Eric J. Erkkinen, assistant director of the Synod’s armed forces ministry and author of this year’s “Armed Forces Sunday” materials. “Even nonmilitary folks know something about SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures. All branches have their military regulations, SOPs and training manuals to make sure troops perform excellently and know how to survive in battle.”

Likewise, “every Christian, every one of us, is engaged in a spiritual battle every day,” says Erkkinen. “As we remember the sacrifices of all those who serve or have served in the military, active duty, National Guard or Reserves, let’s examine closely Paul’s words to see if the standards he lays out speak to our service men and women and to us.”

Christian witness, he adds, “demands the highest standards. Our Lord calls us to serve wherever we are. And we will be His witnesses as we find our authenticity in Christ, as we demonstrate love and honor, as we maintain a resilient faith in His redeeming love.”

“Armed Forces Sunday” resources for 2014 include:

  • a suggested sermon.
  • a responsive prayer.
  • bulletin inserts (in packs of 50).
  • forms congregations can use to add or correct the names and addresses of members who are actively serving in the military. The contact information is used in the Synod’s “Ministry-by-Mail” program, which provides free devotional materials and a newsletter to some 5,000 Lutheran military personnel and their families stationed around the world.

The website for ordering “Armed Forces Sunday” resources is https://lcms.org/forms/maf-bulletin. Items ordered will be mailed in April.

Congregations that celebrate “Armed Forces Sunday” are encouraged to ask their members who are veterans to come in uniform to worship on May 18 and to hold a special recognition ceremony for them and their family members. Another idea is to invite a military chaplain to speak for the occasion.

The LCMS has 70 active-duty military chaplains, 74 chaplains who serve Reserve and National Guard units, seven Reserve/Guard chaplains who serve in the United States, and 24 Civil Air Patrol chaplains.

To locate a chaplain in your area or for more information about the Synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces, call 800-248-1930, Ext. 1337, or send an email to lcmschaps@lcms.org.

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