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A Prayer for Memorial Day

Submitted by Bethany on Mon, 05/27/2019 - 10:00

In the United States, today (the last Monday in May) is a holiday known as Memorial Day. While some people only see this three day weekend as the "unofficial start of summer" and celebrate with cookouts, camping, and catching all the sales, there is a much deeper meaning to the day. Another misconception people often have (I've seen it often in the church) is honoring veterans or people currently serving in the armed forces on this day. While those groups of people certainly deserve to be honored, they have their own official days - Veterans Day is November 11 every year, Armed Services Day is the third Saturday in May. 

Memorial Day is about remembering all those who died in active military service to our country. It is a day of solemn remembrance, prayer, and often, visiting the graves of the fallen. Many communities around the country will hold special services on these days, and people will honor those who died even if they did not personally know them. We acknowledge that even if we don't personally know or have relation to anyone who died in this way, all of those who did, did so for our benefit. As the saying goes, freedom isn't always free. 

To honor this day and the reason we commemorate it, I have written a prayer for Memorial Day. Feel free to use this in your own personal ways, or in a public service (with credit). (Please note, this is a Christian prayer written by a United Methodist pastor so it may not be appropriate for interfaith services, but should be for ecumenical ones.)

Loving and Gracious God, 

Today we gather to remember those who have gone before us,
specifically, those who died in service to our country.
For those we knew, and for those we never knew,
we grieve. 

We grieve the loss of life that seemed to be require by this world to give us the life we have. 
We grieve that war has ever felt necessary for our own safety or freedom or justice.
We grieve what could have been for these men and women who sacrificed their lives for others.
We grieve for their family and friends who never got to see them live their full lives.
We grieve for parents who lost children, spouses who lost the loves of their lives, and for children who never got to know their parents. 

We give thanks for those who were willing to serve, to sacrifice, to lay down their life for someone else. 
We give thanks for their spirit, their loyalty, their love. 
We intend to live our lives in a way that shows our gratitude for what they have done for us. 

Which means, Lord, that we pray for those times promised to us in scripture:
When swords shall be beaten into plowshares,
And neither shall we learn war anymore.
We long for the day when your kingdom will come, on earth as it is in heaven.

We pray all of this is the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,