Learn War no More: A Memorial Day Prayer
My attempt to put words to prayer this Sunday of Memorial Day weekend… we do not honor war, we do honor those who lost their lives to end it.
God of incarnate love and mystery beyond knowing. God of chaos and order. God of creative cooperation and of unrequited shalom.
From the beginning you have bounded a space for us between seas and skies in which life may prosper and we may thrive. You built a garden wholeness, righteousness, and justice. And called on us to live within it in balance and harmony to all of creation. A land where tools are for tilling and gathering in.
And yet we make tools for killing and separating out.
As early as the first family of your world we have struggled with common life together. We are quick to see advantage and threat. We are quick to claim uniqueness and individuality and in such a worldview we are threat to one another – and your kingdom far too accepting of that which we compete against.
And so we know strife… and contest… and war…. All too well.
In the murkiness of our distorted vision we yet endeavor to create a land which knows life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We yet endeavor to extend that hospitality, generosity, and wholeness to all people of all lands, and of all ways. That we fall short does not mean that we fail… it means that have yet more work to do – yet more knowledge of grace and love to learn – yet more transforming of our minds to abide in the interwoven web of all life with peace and harmony.
In the meantime God, we are grateful for the people who rise to walk the murky in-between times where chaos and order go to war. We are grateful for those willing to put themselves in harm’s way in the past, the present, and the future. We are grateful for those who have taken up arms, inhabited trenches, walked wildernesses unknown, and entered the chaos of contested spaces to seek to hold back the tides of war. We are grateful for those who gave their lives in service to the welfare of others and the common good of all people. In a world in which we do not seek war… but in which war finds us, we stop to honor those who drawn a line in sand and bound the seas saying, “here you shall not pass.”
God in unclean lines of daily lives we stop to acknowledge as well that we are at war with ourselves. We see schools become front lines in our dysfunctional relationship with violence. We find officers of peace become targets of blood lust. We find systems of order become sin-ridden ways to separate, demean, and keep your waters of justice from flowing. We turn our inner rage on one another using tactics of abuse and dominance to win a sick sense of personal worth. Our self-righteousness expresses itself in a need to force the other into our way and justify ourselves by demeaning and destroying when conversion is unsuccessful. In a world convinced that the strong survive and the weak may be trampled underfoot… violence becomes, it is, the order of the day.
We confess our own complicitness… and our acceptance of the inevitability, or even, necessity of this way – it is not of you God… it in not in your calling on our lives. It is not as we were created to be. We aspire more to be Cain… than Christ.
And so we give thanks for soldiers and politicians, police officers, and legislators, activits and every day citizens who seek not to be conformed to this way… but to make a new way in the wilderness of our own making. Prophets who speak to power, and power that seeks to build up the down-trodden, tear down walls, and relieve hostility. We are grateful for those who tear down the systems of sin to seek once more a place for the mixing of the nations – a mixing of the creations of the Earth big and small and as diverse as the stars to come together in mutual love and respect where none is Lord but you… Guide us in that way once more, o Christ who confronted power from the cross, and death with resurrection, and hate with forgiveness, and self-righteousness with self-emptying mutuality, in your name we pray – and in your way we seek to walk, this day and forever more, Amen.