A Memorial Day Prayer

Here is the prayer I offered before my sermon yesterday.

Our Heavenly Father,

As our country celebrates Memorial Day tomorrow, a day set apart to remember those women and men who have died in military service to the United States, we pause to remember all those who are grieving the loss of a loved one in armed conflict. We pray for families who are apart because of wars around the world. We pray for their safekeeping and quick return home.

In a world governed by principalities and powers, it is expected that we hate our enemies and celebrate their defeat and death. Yet, Lord Jesus Christ, you taught your followers to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” And so today we pray too for those our country considers enemies and those who consider themselves enemies of our country. We pray for justice and peace that can only be brought about by your hand.

Our merciful God, we look forward to the day when swords are beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. When nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will any train for war anymore. Until that day, keep us faithful to be a people known by our love and service to one another. May our lives point to our Savior whose triumphant victory came through a humble death on a cross.

In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The Dilemma of Memorial Day

A few of you may remember the intriguing “conversation” on the blog last year about my ambiguity on how Memorial Day should or shouldn’t be celebrated by a church.  Believe it or not, that year-old post- and especially your comments- came to mind on Saturday as I was wondering again how to acknowledge the holiday on Sunday.  In his comment Jim suggested the following,

David, as a pastor I have come to the conclusion that the best place to recognize Memorial Day, Labor Day, and all the other ‘days’ is during prayer… Over the years I have always made sure to pray for the innocent and our enemies all in the same breath with our own soldiers. For me it evens the playing field and doesn’t focus our attention on solely on American lives. I do this because we worship a Global God, not one that is constrained to one nation. And worship should always focus on God.

This past Sunday, the day before Memorial Day, I took Jim’s advice and acknowledged the holiday during my congregational prayer.  Here’s what I prayed:

Our Heavenly Father,

Tomorrow our country marks Memorial Day, a day set apart to remember those women and men who have died in military service to the United States.  Lord, today we remember all those who are grieving the loss of a loved one in armed conflict.  We pray too for families who are apart because of wars around the world.  We pray for their safekeeping and quick return home.

Lord Jesus Christ, you taught your followers to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”  And so today we pray too for those our country considers enemies and those who consider themselves enemies of our country.  We pray for justice and peace that can only be brought about by your hand.

Our merciful God, we look forward to the day when swords are beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.  When nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will any train for war anymore.  Until that day, may you keep us faithful to be a people known by our love and service to one another.

In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

I’ve said it before: I’ve learned a lot in the process of keeping this blog, due mostly to the insightful- sometimes provoking but almost always charitable- comments you leave.  Thanks!

There may not be much more to say about this topic, though any additional thoughts about Memorial Day and church would be welcomed.
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