The Rev. Dianne O’Connell

First Congregational Church

November 7, 2010


Prior to the Reading of the Covenant

Thank you, Kathy.  I would like to acknowledge the presence of Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew, Lt. Parker, and Police Chaplains Bert McQueen, and Paul McGee. They have joined us for Police Appreciation Sunday observance.  We hope that they each leave our service this morning with the knowledge that their work and calling is much honored.

We have several folks this morning who would like to offer a more personal aspect to our gratitude. During the sermon time, we’d like to give them the opportunity to share their stories and then I will come back and offer a few closing remarks. But first would those who are able please stand for the reading of the Covenant.

Thank You, APD

(Testimonials:  Peggy McBride, Sandra Skaggs, Cindi Crawford, Cathy White, Verona Gentry, Tom Stearns, Kathy Broome, Marcia Brumbaugh…)

(In blue: Sermon notes not used in the interest in time and because our wonderful speakers above covered the concepts.)

Let us for a moment think back to the passages from Romans that Carolyn Rinehart read for us a moment ago. There is a much longer version of the comparison of the human body to the Body of Christ, or the Church in I Corinthians 12:12-31.  Here are the familiar words, “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.”

In both the letter to the Corinthians and the letter to the Romans, Paul compares the Human Body to the Body of Christ. I believe the analogy can also be extended from the Body of Christ to the community at-large: we all have our roles to play, our responsibilities to fulfill, and without one of us, we are all diminished.

We are here this morning to say thank you to one segment of our community which gets little enough thanks for the work they do on behalf of us all. Without them, our whole effort at living together as a civilized society would be in danger of failure.

Let me see if I can explain myself. The reading from the Hebrew Scriptures today was entitled the Reading of the Law, and Carolyn read us the Ten Commandments.  Most of us acknowledge that the Ten Commandments were given to human beings as a framework for living peacefully together.  Without some basic understandings, some basic parameters, people cannot successfully bunch up together in villages, towns and cities.  Without some Order, there is a lot of Chaos. So God send Moses down with some words carved in stone.


·        There is Someone Greater than You who gets to make the rules. 

·        That’s Me, God, and I expect to be worshipped and obeyed. So here goes.

·        Do not steal from one another. 

·        Do not kill each other.

·        Leave each other wives and husbands alone.

·        You get the idea.  Treat each other with respect…

That’s a great framework, but who gets to enforce the new rules?

Remember when we were kids?  We all, boys and girls alike, wanted to be police officers.  I did.  I wanted to help people find their way home like Officer Van Laningham back in Lansing, Illinois helped me when I was about six. 

I don’t know when I began to re-think being a policeman, but it might have started when I realized that Officer Van Laningham had to do the tough stuff, too – like come and take away the sick, rabid dog that had found his way into our neighborhood.  Later I realized the job was dangerous, that there were sick, rabid people in this world, too. It might not always be a fun job.

Last night, I checked on the Anchorage Daily News website to see what Anchorage’s Van Laninghams police department had been doing lately.  Just on Friday, November 5, there were 20 thefts, three burglaries, six stolen autos, six cases of vandalism, ten disturbances, nine assaults, seven DUIs, twelve arrests for prostitution, and a bunch of other stuff. There is no report regarding the on-going investigations from previous days.  This was just the new stuff.

Also on the ADN website we learned that because of budget cuts, Police Chief Mark Mew announced the necessity to cut 22 positions in the Anchorage Police Department.  Through transfers, grants, and attrition, however, no one was scheduled to be laid off, yet. 

On the bright side, there was hope that funds could be found to train additional officers in 2011 with the money saved through the careful stewardship of the overtime budget. 

I am reminded of Romans 13:6-7 

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

I can make this little foray into public policy, because what I have offered is a direct quote from Scripture, and because it is Police Appreciation Sunday.

But it is time to draw my sermonizing to a close. Chief Mew and Officers we’ve invited you here today to say Thank You for the work you do, and to offer prayers for your safety and well-being.

Mr. Ed Beu, a member of our congregation, would like to make a presentation.

Following the presentation, Chief Mew offered remarks.

Service closed with “Here I Am, Lord”

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