This morning, I will be at First Christian, Columbia, SC. They have asked me to pray for veterans and their families.
Veteran’s day is a bit of a struggle for me. I want to acknowledge that not evey veteran is proud of their service, that often, families bear the brunt of the after effects of war, that suicide, homelessness, and joblessness are a reality of the veteran community.
I also want to acknowledge that many veterans struggle and many are doing fine, that the stereotype of the “crazy-eyed veteran” is exactly that.
Oh, and also the reality that the Kingdom of God has no borders. That service to Jesus Christ transcends all ideas of nationalistic sentiment.
And then there is the reality that war is the ultimate human tragedy, the failure of humans to work out their issues without killing one another.
Here is that humble attempt with thanks to Peter Marshall:
Prayer for Veteran’s Day 2014
First Christian Church, Columbia SC
Good morning. As an Active duty service member, I am honored to pray this morning for veterans and their families. Serving one’s country in the Armed Services is a challenge to anyone who also serves Jesus Christ. There is an inherent tension between Christ’s call to peace and the country’s call to arms. Those who have lived and served in that tension have done so at their own peril. They have offered their very lives to the service of others. They have done so not always agreeing with the action they were ordered to do, they have done so even when the result is death or serious harm, they have done so even when they were not appreciated for that service, they have done so even when promises are not kept.
Some of our nation’s veterans this morning have served and have gone on to other work in the country having been able to work through the lasting vestiges of war in their lives. Other’s struggle with the memory of war and traumatic stress it brings. Veterans are turning to suicide as an answer to their pain. Some veterans this morning are feeling the benefit of living in this country, others are homeless, jobless, and wondering where to get care. This morning, I remember all veterans and their families. Those doing well and those doing poorly. Those who have been able to integrate their pain and those who struggle with their memories. Those enjoying the freedom of this land and those who are now behind bars. Those with homes and those homeless. Those who are still with the family of their youth and those who are now divorced and separated from those families because of the effects of war. Those who remember their service with fondness and those who daily grieve the pain of it. We remember them all and pray for them.
Oliver Wendell Homes, himself a veteran of the American Civil War once said, “We have shared the incommunicable experience of war, we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youths, our hearts were touched with fire.” I know that fire. I know that it still burns.
From one veteran to another and their families – thank you for your service.
We approach the Throne of Grace:
Lord Jesus Christ, we are the children of God. Yet we would not be human if we were not sometimes fearful, if our hearts did not ache and harbor anxiety for those we love who wear and have worn our country’s uniform – here and in the far corners of the earth.
Yet, we also know that the Everlasting Arms reach out across the world. We know the shadow of your wing covers all your children.
We know that in this world there are troubles. Whether diseases in Africa, extremists in Iraq and other places, homelessness and poverty here in America, and a host of other ills, that nothing can separate us nor those we love from your love and watch care.
We know that the bonds of the fellowship of prayer are real. We know that at the throne of grace we are all united, that our souls can mingle with those we love on earth even though separated by tumbling sea and dreary miles. In that spirit we ask for our nation’s veterans that you:
Support them in time of need,
Give them strength beyond their own,
Confidence that you are their shepherd and will never leave them nor forsake them,
Strength in temptation that they may be kept clean,
Give them the gift of inner peace, a serenity that no tragedy can destroy,
Give peace to spouses wondering how much longer they can hang on to their marriage,
Keep those veterans preparing for another winter without a home or job safe,
Calm the dreams of those who struggle with sleeping at night,
Encouragement to those who are thinking of suicide as a way out to know that they are loved, have value and are important,
Give us the peace that passes all understanding that keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. May Peace come to the world so that War can be no more. We look to the day when Soldiers are no longer needed with great anticipation. Until then, we serve.
May we feel your presence and see by faith that day when the love of Christ shall live in the hearts of all people everywhere. Amen.