Bill got up from the pew and walked to the front of church on Sunday when Pastor Pechman called all those who had served, or are currently serving, in the United States military to do so. He shook every one of their hands.
And then we said the following prayer, which I could not get through without crying. At times I had to blink through the tears to see the words, and for most of the prayer my voice couldn’t actually say the words, but I would whisper them.
Lord of the Nations, we come before you with remembering hearts. We think of the many long rows of crosses marking the graves of those who died in service to our country.
We recognize that war and its weapons are not what you planned for this creation. We deplore the rebellion against you that brought this misery into our world. We confess that at times we, to, have joined in fighting against you and your ways.
God of our Fathers, in compassion for us you sent your Son into this world to establish peace between the holy triune God and the human race.
We thank you for the peace that we have with you because Jesus of Nazareth paid the price for all sin and rebellion. We especially rejoice to know that our guilt has been covered with that ransom price.
God of Grace and Glory, the pages of history reveal the undeserved mercy that you have shown to our land. Through centuries of wars, and threats of wars, you have preserved our nation. Our flag still flies high as a symbol of freedom and a beacon of hope to many.
We know this is not the result of our moral courage or our military might. It is your hand that has preserved us. It is your faithfulness that has shielded us.
You have granted to our nations sons and daughters who were willing to step forward in defense of our country. Whether draftee or volunteer, they did not fail to fall in for duty, nor did they desert their post. Some of them returned to us with broken bodies, other with wounded emotions. Some came back to us in caskets, some lie buried far from their homeland (and some are still held against their will across enemy lines).
Lord, we thank you for these people. We ask you to remind us of the debt we owe to them. We ask you to help us cherish the freedoms their sacrifices enable us to enjoy.
God and Savior, many of the fallen were serving in your army while they wore the uniform of our Armed Forces, and they named you as their ultimate Commander-in-Chief.
We thank you for never forsaking them. We thank you for delivering them from fields of combat to the pastures of the blessed.
…Be with our nation as it walks into the future. Correct, inspire, and guide it.
Lord God, please bless America. Amen.