Monday, May 30, 2016

Prayers and Practices for Memorial Day

I have always had an uneasy relationship with Memorial Day.  My dad served in the Air Force so we were never far away from a conversation about the sacrifices others made so that we could live in freedom.  We went to memorials and statues and cemeteries.  We often made our way to Washington D.C., where it's impossible not to be aware of the sacrifices made--so many and of so many kinds--for the sake of freedom.

As I got older, I wanted to be a pacifist, and so, Memorial Day became more difficult.  I've read my history, though, and I realize how often war, even if held as the last resort, has been necessary.

It is impossible not to realize the cost of war.  There's the money, of course, and the death of soldiers.  We may forget the other costs:  the families of military members, the injured veterans, the civilians damaged in so many ways, peace of all kinds shattered.

So, on this day which has become for so many of us just an excuse to have a barbecue or open up the beach house, let us pause to reflect and remember.  If we're safe right now, let us say a prayer of gratitude.  Let us remember that we've still got lots of military people serving in dangerous places--and even if they're not in dangerous places, we all still face threats, military people more than others in some places. 

Let us remember how often the world zooms into war.  Let us pray to be preserved from those horrors.

Let us pray for nations that are involved in wars.  Let us pray for a time when we can all beat our swords into ploughshares.

We could resolve to do more than pray.  We could get involved in social justice groups that actively work to bring the world to a more peaceful place.

We could resolve that we're going to do more to support our veterans.  We could donate money to groups that care for vets.  We could make care packages.  We could write cards.

Here's a prayer I wrote for Memorial Day:

God of comfort, on this Memorial Day, we remember those souls whom we have lost to war.  We pray for those who mourn.  We pray for military members who have died and been forgotten.  We pray for all those sites where human blood has soaked the soil.  God of Peace, on this Memorial Day, please renew in us the determination to be peacemakers.  On this Memorial Day,we offer a prayer of hope that military people across the world will find themselves with no warmaking jobs to do. We offer our pleading prayers that you would plant in our leaders the seeds that will sprout into saplings of peace.

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