Ethan Allen was a big, voluble, rather flamboyant Vermonter, Colonial patriot, and a somewhat controversial hero of the American Revolution. He always had a penchant for getting into trouble as a youth and even into adulthood trouble seemed to follow him. Ethan Allen is known as one of the founders of the State ofVermontand one of the most colorful figures of Colonial times.
During the early years of the American Revolution, Allen organized a rag-tag army of freedom-lovers known as the Green Mountain Boys. On May 10, 1775, Allen and his Boys captured from the British the strategic Fort Ticonderoga. Just after 2:00 AM and with stealth and complete surprise, the Green Mountain Boys crossed Lake Champlain, snuck into the fort and defeated the British without firing a single shot! The British Commander who had been fast asleep during the raid demanded to know by what authority the fort was being entered. By all accounts the flamboyant Allen, responded, In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!
Only days after having returned from this successful venture, Allen did something which he often did after a successful campaign – on Sunday morning he attended church. During the service the pastor offered a long prayer, a great deal of which was an offering of praise to God for the liberation of FortTiconderoga. How great was God, and how good, to have wrested that fort from the enemy! Ethan Allen, having sat through as much of this as he could endure, interrupted the pastor, saying, Parson Dewey … Parson Dewey, please mention to the Lord that I and the Green Mountain Boys were there too!!
Now perhaps Ethan Allen might have been a bit too proud and too full of himself still, the plain fact is, of course, that wherever God has done things in the world somebody has been there as an instrument of God. In so many of the scripture readings during our Summer Season I have been aware of how Paul the Apostle was constantly lifting up this theme – that we are the instruments of God. So often Paul uses the imagery of the Body of Christ; that God uses our hands and our feet, our minds and our words to usher in the Reign of God. I mention what seems so very obvious because I’m not sure our prayers often affirm the instruments of God in the world.
I am aware that often times my family’s prayer around the dinner table is one of gratitude to God, as it should be. Still, I think the farmers had something to do with the meal, and those who transported the produce, and the grocers who handled it, and my wife who prepared it. Shouldn’t I acknowledge and lift up all these instruments of God? I remember offering a prayer to God in gratitude for safe travels this summer. Still, I think those who build our highways and fly our planes and drive our taxis and run our metro systems had something to do with these safe travels. Shouldn’t I acknowledge and lift up all these instruments of God? I look around nearly every Sunday and praise God for the beauty of the earth. We live in this wonderful community surrounded by parks and nature trails, lakes and streams and I praise God for all of this. Still, our city employees have something to do with this beauty, and the maintenance folks who cut the lawns and trim the parks and clean the streets and fix the sidewalks; the police and firefighters who keep us safe; even the accountants who make it all work. Shouldn’t I acknowledge and lift up all these instruments of God?
And so I suppose this reflection is more of a challenge to think deeply about your prayers of gratitude and to affirm the people that God has chosen as instruments. Whatever you are grateful for today, reflect on the people who have been co-creators with God and have made it happen. If we do this our prayer life will expand along with our gratitude. Are you grateful for something you see? Then pray for those who care for your eyes. Are you grateful for a beautiful piece of music? Then pray for those create these melodies. Are your grateful for life? Then say a pray for your parents who gave you life, and friends who give meaning to your life, and all of those who sustain you in life. Remember, we are the Body of Christ and wherever God has done great things in the world somebody has been there as an instrument of God.