Reflections to start the week
Monday, May 25, 2015
A way to pray on Memorial Day
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
These are the third and fourth stanzas of a poem written by Robert Laurence Binyon in 1914. He sat on cliffs overlooking the English Channel, reflecting on the casualties of the British Expeditionary Force which had suffered severe losses at the Battle of Mons and the Battle of the Marne in the opening phase of the war on the Western Front. Over time, these stanzas have been claimed as a tribute to all casualties of war. They are shared on this Monday morning, when many people have opportunity to take a day off. Amidst relaxation and revelry, take some quiet time on this Memorial Day to remember those who over the years have lost their lives, those known to us, those unknown soldiers.
Pray for the repose of their souls, in the confidence that in death life is changed not ended, that as our Prayer Book says, they still go from strength to strength in service in God’s perfect kingdom. In the mystery of our Easter faith, their stories are not over.
Then pray for those who feel their loss most deeply, even over the decades. I remember visiting my grandmother in the hospital room where she spent her last days in her late eighties. What she wanted to talk about in her final hours was the young son who died at the age of 5, well over 50 years earlier. The sense of loss is rarely lost.
Then pray for those whose lives are at risk this Monday morning around the world, soldiers and civilians. Many of us will be enjoying the privileges, the blessings of our way of life, even as around the world conflict rages. Way too often , it is conflict offered in the name of God. Pray for those in harm’s way.
Then pray for our enemies, for those who would threaten to undo us. That’s not an easy one. But as followers of Jesus we do it because he told us to. If you have trouble finding the words, let the Prayer Book help with this prayer for our enemies. It makes the point that like it or not, we’re in this together. Here’s the prayer: O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then pray for peace. Our big, beautiful, broken world needs those prayers big time. Those prayers can be quiet offerings. They can be active, as together we work for justice and peace in the world.
Then have a great day off, having taken a few minutes to remember.
– Jay Sidebotham
A prayer for heroic service, from the Book of Common Prayer, page 839
O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.