In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,
let each of us name and call on
the One whose power over us
is great and gentle,
firm and forgiving,
holy and healing…
You who created us,
who sustain us,
who call us to live in peace,
hear our prayer this day.
Hear our prayer for all who have died,
whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone…
Hear our prayer for those who put the welfare of others
ahead of their own
and give us hearts as generous as theirs…
Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives
in the service of others,
and accept the gift of their sacrifice…
Help us to shape and make a world
where we will lay down the arms of war
and turn our swords into ploughshares
for a harvest of justice and peace…
Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones
and let your healing be the hope in our hearts…
Hear our prayer this day
and in your mercy answer us
in the name of all that is holy.
Have you ever looked, really looked, at a soldier’s face? Sometimes it’s young, barely an adult the hopes of youth still painted in its features. Sometimes it’s old older than faith, older than wisdom, older than time. And sometimes…sometimes it’s a bit of both all at once.
Sometimes it’s gritty and pained, remembering the face of another who has fallen. Sometimes it’s laughing, pleased to have a moment of peace. Most of the time it’s proud because it knows, oh yes it knows, the world is a different place a better place because of it.
Next time you look at a soldier’s face, see if you can find that glint of pride. Sometimes it’s hidden, and you have to search it out. You’ll find it in the eyes always in the eyes. For the eyes are indeed the windows to the soul, even a soldier’s soul.
And when you’ve carefully examined every feature of that soldier’s face, stand up straight and tall and smile your best smile. Thank that soldier, because it does what some cannot or will not. It defends what it believes to be right with it’s very life. But more important, it defends a perfect stranger you.
And when you see a flag covered casket, stand in memorium of all the soldier’s faces you’ve examined. For when one of them falls, they all fall. And when one of them stands, they all stand.
Shouldn’t we stand with them?
The Fields of Flanders by Edith Nesbit was written in response to the poem In Flander’s Fields.
Last year the fields were all glad and gay
With silver daisies and silver may;
There were kingcups gold by the river’s edge
And primrose stars under every hedge.
This year the fields are trampled and brown,
The hedges are broken and beaten down,
And where the primroses used to grow
Are little black crosses set in a row.
And the flower of hopes, and the flowers of dreams,
The noble, fruitful, beautiful schemes,
The tree of life with its fruit and bud,
Are trampled down in the mud and the blood.
The changing seasons will bring again
The magic of Spring to our wood and plain;
Though the Spring be so green as never was seen
The crosses will still be black in the green.
The God of battles shall judge the foe
Who trampled our country and laid her low. . . .
God! hold our hands on the reckoning day,
Lest all we owe them we should repay.
We as people have a tendency to forget. We have the capability of self-deception. We have the temerity to rewrite history. And yet the Bible from cover to cover tells us to look back — not so that we may live in the past, but so that we may learn from the past in order to go forward.
Whenever I find myself in the spiritual dumps, I discover that it is because I have ceased to remember God’s past mercies on me. And whenever I forget God’s past goodness to me, I am in trouble. It never fails. Whenever you find yourself with a heavy heart, ask yourself: “Am I remembering what God has done for me in the past? Or have I developed a convenient amnesia?”
The devil loves for us to forget God’s past blessings — because as long as we’re not remembering God’s blessings, then we are going to be in trouble. And that’s exactly where Satan wants us to be.
Do you tell your children and grandchildren about how rough you had it growing up, or do you tell them about how good God has been to you? Honestly, do you tell the next generation how easy they have it in comparison to you — or do you tell them about God’s past graciousness to you?
If you forget to tell them how God has answered your prayers …
If you forget to tell them how you cried to God and God answered you …
If you forget to tell them how God has provided for you …
If you forget to tell them how God has redeemed you and has delivered you …
Then you have wronged them — and God.
When you hit a spiritual dry spell, remind yourself and your family of God’s past deliverance. Think of the miracles that God has performed in your life that you may have swept out of your memory bank. Bring those up again. Tell the next generation of how good God is. Engrave His miracles on their minds. Testify, record and celebrate how God has worked in your life.
And do that again and again and again — not just on Memorial Day, but on a regular basis.
Let this Memorial Day be a day of remembrance, not only of those who have given their lives, but also a remembrance of the God who gave God’s all, God’s only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.