Monday Matters (May 29, 2017)


We will remember them

The summer season starts this weekend in a big way. The beach will be packed. Waterways gridlocked. Barbecues blaze. Lots of festivities, a welcomed break.

But like many of our holidays, the reason for the celebration can get forgotten, ironic for a holiday meant for memorial. This morning, I commend to you one of the thanksgivings from the Book of Common Prayer, mindful that our praying shapes our believing. It’s called a prayer for heroic service (The Book of Common Prayer, page 839). I invite you to offer this prayer in a few quiet moments today. Maybe say it as a grace before you dive into a Memorial Day feast. Maybe offer it to complete the day. Here’s the prayer:

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.

The prayer calls us to remember with gratitude. It’s been said in the journey of faith that we don’t need so much to be instructed as we need to be reminded. So much of our faith, so much of our scripture is about looking in the rear view mirror and seeing how God has acted, and also seeing how much has been offered in the past, and how much loss has been endured.

The prayer asks us to imagine ourselves in the day of decision. We remember today countless lives lost, many of whom were young people with so much future ahead of them. Pause to remember their courage, captured in the poem in the left hand column which comes to us from another country that experienced great loss of its own.

In an understated way, the prayer talks about how those who we remember ventured much for the liberties we enjoy. I’m reminded of what Jesus said about finding your life by losing it. That seems to be a deep spiritual principle, if not an easy one. Let this day be a day to honor those ventures, not only with our recollection but with our action.

Which leads to a call to cherish liberties. Across the political spectrum these days, there is fear that liberties are endangered, one way or another. We are for sure divided, but today we pause to celebrate the greatness of a nation that has blessed its people with exceptional freedoms, not to be taken for granted, freedoms in need of vigorous defense.

Finally, this prayer calls us to action, to recognize that there are still those who don’t enjoy the benefits of true freedom. It calls us to gladly accept disciplines that come with freedom. What would you say are those disciplines? What would it mean for you to accept them?

Enjoy the gift of this day. Make the enjoyment richer by including in this day some moments to remember the fallen, with the help of these words from the poet Laurence Binyon,

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.

-Jay Sidebotham

For the Fallen
Composed by Robert Laurence Binyon in 1914, as he reflected on the losses of World War I
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
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.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.


Jay SidebothamContact:
Rev. Jay Sidebotham
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