God of the Peace,
On this day, more than others in this sanctuary we are mindful of freedom that we have. We are also mindful of those whose lives have been given in sacrifice to the country that they served. And we read on about violence, but also hope in the face of violence. Earlier this week, we watched as one of our own, Corporal William Kyle Carpenter, received the Medal of Honor for risking his life to save the life of another. There are signs of hope amidst the signs of war and tragedy.
So we gather to pray and to remember, that for every one who has given his or her life in service to this country, there are others who need our love and support as they come home from war and the terrors of war. Help us to honor their service and sacrifice. Help us also to remember those left behind..the fathers and mothers, the sisters and brothers, the wives and husbands, and children of those who serve. May we find ways to be helpers and bear the light from above through the night in which we pass.
We are grateful for our nation which allows us the freedom to worship, to speak, and to pray. Help us to use that freedom boldly and wisely. Help us to learn how to speak with one another, rather than to one another. For it is not only our actions, but our words that can incite violence.
For the victims of violence, we pray for peace. But we pray not only for the idea of peace that we seek as a nation. Make our prayers bolder, stronger, more truthful, as we pray for peace that comes through Christ Jesus. For your peace is not our peace. Because you cause us to pray for peace in ways that bother us, by praying not first for ourselves, but for our enemies.
So we struggle as we pray together for those who want to harm us, whether they live next door or a world away. Then, as we take a look at who our enemies are, and after we have prayed for them, help us to pray for ourselves, for the times when someone might be praying for us, because they see us as enemies. God, it is hard, but we pray for all of your children, who are Christians, because sometimes that means that we might even be fighting one another. So we pray for peace.
God, we ask, how long? How long must we fight? How long must we go on? Where is the victory? As we hear of escalating forces where our nation has already been, it is tempting to despair. And yet, we have not to fear, because of your love. Because your perfect love drives out fear, and hate, and anger. We need more of your perfect love.
Our hope is found in your word, which reminds us, even when we cannot find the enemy, or we don’t know who we’re fighting, or even why we’re fighting, we find that our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. We find this the violence that we face in the flesh is nothing compared to the battle that Christ has fought and won for us. So we endure, we persist, and we know that we have hope. Because Christ has already won the battle for us, because God has already paid the price, because the Holy Spirit walks with us and gives us strength, we can pray, each one of us in our own hearts and minds, that though the we suffer loss, though we suffer pain, though we endure hardships, I believe that we will win.