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How is your church remembering Veterans Day?

How is your church remembering Veterans Day?

2014-08-01-tower-of-london-world-war-i-poppies-paul-cummins-01-1.jpg

Today is Veterans Day in the US, Remembrance Day or Armistice Day elsewhere, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – in 1918, “the war to end all wars” came to an end. How is your church or you, personally, marking this day?


The Revd Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland prayed:

The stone walls of this church surrounded those who went off to war.

Hear us, O Lord, as we remember those who gathered here in in this place to sing and to pray before going off to war.

Help us to remember their sense of hope and adventure and the joy of human companionship.

We remember those who showed courage in leaving for war and also those who showed their own courage in refusing to fight.

Those who went to war went believing they were putting the world to rights.

Help us to try to do the same.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

The stone walls of this church surrounded those who remained at home.

Hear us, O Lord, as we remember those who remained home, so many women waiting for news of their men, so many children waiting for news of their fathers.

As we remember them we remember those who went on waiting throughout all their lives.

Help us to pray for those who today wait for news of those whom they love who have gone to war.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

The stone walls of this church have surrounded those who in this place have tried to bring peace.

They have surrounded those who have left this place to go on demonstrations.

They have surrounded those who have debated.

They have surrounded conversations and discussions and hopes and dreams.

Hear us as we pray for those who have decisions, important decisions to make which affect the lives of others.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

And now the stone walls of this church surround us.

What will we make of the world that we have inherited? How will we live in the world of today?

Help us O Lord to seek out peace and build a world of justice.

Teach us what to do and how to live.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

And here in this place, surrounded by these same stone walls, I hold in my hand a bible.

It was carried by a soldier in World War Taken from place to place and returning to this country when he returned at the close of the war.

And inside its tattered cover is a prayer that we may each make our own prayer this night.

Almighty and Everlasting God,

by whose Grace Thy servants

are enabled to fight the good fight of faith

and ever prove victorious:

We humbly beseech Thee so to inspire us,

that we may yield our hearts to thine obedience

and, exercise our wills on Thy behalf.

Help us to think wisely:

to speak rightly:

to resolve bravely:

to act kindly:

to live purely.

Bless us in body and in soul,

and make us a blessing to our comrades.

Whether , at home or abroad

may we ever seek the extension of Thy Kingdom.

Let the assurance of Thy presence

save us from sinning:

support us in life,

and comfort us in death.

0 Lord our God accept this prayer

for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

In London a display of poppies fills the walls and area surrounding The Tower of London

The Tower of London has traditionally been one of the city’s more foreboding landmarks, serving in part as a prison from 1100 until 1952. As the UK marks the 100th anniversary of its entrance into World War I, however, a sea of red ceramic poppies has sprung up around the building, spilling over the bridge and out of the windows into the tower’s surrounding moat to gorgeous effect.

As reported by Colossal, the poppies are the work of ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper. Slowly but surely, over the past few weeks, volunteers have been carefully planting the bright red flowers. The moat will continue to bloom throughout the summer, until there are 888,246 flowers in total, or one for each soldier from the UK and its colonies who was killed during the First World War. At twilight each evening, a Roll of Honor ceremony will be held and include the reading of the names of 180 of those who died, accompanied by a solitary bugle call.

The poppy became known as a flower of remembrance because of those men who died fighting in the trenches in the poppy fields of Flanders. In the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, artificial poppies are commonly worn on November 11, known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, which marks the anniversary of the end of the Great War. Appropriately, the final ceramic poppy in the installation, titled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, will be planted on November 11 of this year.

Photo: Historic Royal Palaces.

Bishop Rob Hirschfield of New Hampshire writes here.

I offer this prayer, adapted from a prayer composed during World War I, the war that was hoped to end all wars. Though that hope was dashed, our appeal to God is unrelenting.

O Lord God Almighty, who from thy throne dost behold all the dwellers upon the earth: Look down with pity upon those on whom have fallen the miseries of war. Cleanse both us and our enemies of hatred; have compassion on the wounded and dying; comfort the broken-hearted; assuage the madness of the nations; guide our rulers; make wars to cease; give peace in our time, O Lord. We ask it in the name of him who is the Prince of Peace, even thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Rt Rev James Magness, Episcopal Suffragan Bishop for the Armed Forces urges not just remembrance:

Today our world continues to be marked by the sacrifices of warriors at the altar of death, and there seems to be no end to violence and destruction in sight. But as the poppies grow blood red anew each year in Flanders, so hope for peace continues to spring like white lilies afresh each year in the hearts of women and men of good will around the world. May each of us commit ourselves to the enduring work of peace-making and the work of relationship-building.

While remembrance is important, the act of remembering is insufficient. We have among us a significant number of combat veterans, many of whom have invisible though enduring wounds, which must be recognized and healed. It is not enough to thank a veteran for her or his service as though we were wishing them a ‘good day.’ It is incumbent upon each of us to engage in ongoing care for veterans and to ensure that we provide meaningful assistance in rebuilding their lives and their futures. Providing shelter for the homeless, medical care for the ailing, spiritual care for those who have lost hope, and jobs for those who are unemployed are the responsibilities of a grateful nation to those who have stood the lonely watches, born the heavy burdens and carry the wounds of war for each of us.

Statistics on veterans at American Progress: Who are they, what are their needs: for employment, for mental and physical health. How might your church make a difference?

Praying for those in peril on the sea, on the land, in the air and at home.

Eternal Father strong to save

Whose arm has bound the restless wave,

Who bids the mighty ocean deep

It’s own appointed limits keep,

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in Peril on the sea.

Oh Christ, the Lord of hill and plain,

O’er which our traffic runs amain.

By mountain pass or valley low,

Wherever, Lord our brethren go,

Protect them by Thy guarding hand

From every peril on the land

O Spirit, whom the Father sent

To spread abroad the firmament.

Oh wind of heaven, by Thy might

Save all who dare the eagle’s flight.

And keep them by thy watchful care

From every peril in the air

O Trinity of love and power,

Our brethren shield in danger’s hour.

From rock and tempest, fire, and foe

Protect them wheresoe’er they go.

That evermore shall rise to Thee,

Glad praise from air and land and sea

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Gregory Orloff
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Gregory Orloff

Lest we forget, November 11 is also the feast of Saint Martin of Tours, bishop, a veteran who took seriously these words of God: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9) and "Do what is right, love mercy and walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

Holy God,

thank you for Martin of Tours:

the soldier who shared his cloak with a beggar,

the conscientious objector who refused to shed blood,

the bishop who protested a heretic's execution.

Let his example move us

to care for the needy and stand against violence,

in the footsteps of your Son Christ Jesus,

under the lead of your Spirit,

to the glory of your name.

Amen.

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