A Pacifist’s Prayer on Memorial Day

God, help us to remember…

…that life is a gift. To call it a gift is to imply that we did not earn it. Life is grace. Peace preserves life. So on this Memorial Day weekend we remember that Your intention for this world is shalom. This would be a world where human beings find themselves in right relationship with You – God, with each other, with the earth, and to one’s own self. Life is indeed a gift both to companions and enemies. So on this Memorial Day we seek to remember the gift of life that unites human beings everywhere.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God, help us to remember…

…that violence always disrupts shalom. Christ, You died, absorbing the violence of a military machine’s ultimate weapon for insurrectionists – the cross. This death unleashed the potential for shalom once again… something war can never bring. May we see this resurrection potential all around us!

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God, help us to remember…

…that noble men and women have died in war. Many whose motives were pure, believing that this sort of sacrifice was Your will. May those of us who claim to be peacemakers remember that soldiers of any nation usually believe that their fight is for a moral good. Therefore, help us to be slow to pass judgment and quick to offer hospitality.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God, help us to remember…

…that the way of Jesus has been marginalized from our Bibles since the days of Constantine. The day the cross and the sword went to bed with one another was the day that the church pushed further into its decline towards compromise. By turning her back to the red letters of Scripture, Christendom chose to perpetuate violence rather than follow Jesus’ own model of absorbing the wrath of the powers of this age. We pray that we would pacify violence with love.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God, help us to remember…

…that during the days of the Reformation Christian sisters and brothers killed one another over dogma. How can we learn to love our enemies when we can’t even love ourselves? Today we spew words of violence over similar disputes when our primary disposition, according to You O Christ, is that we might be “one” as You and the Father are One.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God, help us to remember…

…that radical Christians during the Reformation rediscovered the subversive nature of the kingdom of God. This is a way of enemy love, nonresistance, integrity, and countercultural community. May we lean into that vision that transcends the artificial borders of nations and those that often surround our hearts.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God, help us to remember…

…that Dr. King serves as a modern example that nonviolence and displays of love can in fact lead revolutions. When we pull out a sword, more swords get drawn. In the same way, love inevitably multiplies. May we spark fresh revolutions of love in our day!

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God, help us to remember…

…that many soldiers come back from war with post-traumatic stress syndrome. PTSD reminds us that the ultimate remembering that happens for those in combat is the kind that brings forth nightmares. Help us to be prepared to comfort soldiers in their times of need.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Therefore, with Your Divine help, O God, we commit ourselves to being a community of RE-Membering.

RE-Membering…

…names the past and its residual effects, while also being committed to re-incorporating veterans into our Christian communities. God, with your help we commit ourselves to peacemaking by building bridges of reconciliation with veterans – refusing to live in judgment.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God, we pledge our allegiance to Your kingdom as we seek to…

…name evil and we discourage followers of Jesus from any vocation that might require violence. At the same time, we refuse to distance ourselves from those who have taken part in the way of Empire. God, help us to bring shalom to these people, Your children, as You have given peace to those of us who have never pulled the trigger.

May we be people who lay down our pacifistic pride, and follow the model of our Savior by stretching out our arms as a gesture of love, openness, and hospitality. Never condoning violence but always choosing forgiveness and reconciliation in spite of it. In this way, may our God of peace, Jesus Christ, receive all the glory, all the honor, and all the praise.

Amen.

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  • Corinne Edington

    Thank you from the bottom of an Air Force fighter pilot daughter’s heart! Lord, in your mercy . . .

  • http://www.ExecutiveIncomeCoach.com/ David Smith

    Thank you! During the original Gulf War, I was in the Air Force and loaded bombs on F-16′s that were used to kill human beings made in the image of God who had done nothing to me. I still grieve over this 23 years later. I also struggle with people constantly wanting to “thank you for your service” when I now know that violence and war is not the way of Jesus and enemy love. This prayer/blog post is much appreciated. (And yes, I was a Christian at the time with plans on becoming a preacher)


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