This is a repeated post from last year for a couple folks who were interested in these worship resources for the American holiday.
Prayer for Memorial Day
God, we come with Taps in our hearts
remembering those who have died for others,
soldiers, sailors, air corps, in this country and others,
remembering those who risk life for others,
coast guard, firefighter, law enforcement,
both near and far away,
remembering those who go forth
in emergency response, disaster relief,
and aid to victims of war,
remembering those who witness for justice
in the face of opposition,
and remembering our own losses –
some, fresh wounds,
some, long-familiar sadnesses.
Day is come, not just one,
but a year full of dawns
in the east.
While some rest, we are blest,
given peace. Amen.
We remember that Memorial Day began when Confederate war widows decorated the far-from-home graves of Union soldiers.
We remember – and pray for those who grieve on all sides of a conflict.
We remember that Memorial Day also began at Charleston’s Washington Race Course when newly freed slaves honored prisoners of war.
We remember – and pray for people everywhere who are seeking freedom
or living with the loss of freedom.
We remember that May 30 was chosen for Memorial Day because it was one day that did not commemorate a particular battle.
We remember — and pray for a time when every day is an anniversary of peace.
We remember ANZAC Day, when Australians and New Zealanders memorialize not only those in combat, but nurses, stretcher bearers, conscientious objectors, and those who bear home front burdens.
We remember – and pray to be aware of the gifts of many in our common causes.
We remember Christmas Eve truces and paper cranes, amnesties and poppies, folded flags and the desperate need of veterans for gratitude made real in support.
We remember — and pray for a memorial-izing, not confined to a holiday but alive in the spirits of young and old, enlisted and civilian, brand new Americans and those with deep hometown-roots, people of every faith, no faith and people willing to leave their politics outside the door in order to embrace everyone.
*ANZAC Day — Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Day, April 25
Prayer of Confession
God we confess that we prefer parades to caring for those with PTSD. We confess that we say “thank you for your service” and allow veterans’ benefits to be eroded. We confess that we call “free speech,” the cartoons that offend our neighbor’s faith, and “second amendment rights,” the assault weapons that endanger our neighbor’s school, home, movie theatre, house of worship. We confess an inner profiling that lets some “lives matter” more than others. We confess that on this holiday we remember quickly, then turn to barbecue and big-box store sales.
Turn our hearts, we pray, to a moment of honor of those who have died to preserve the community and abundance we enjoy, and to a life-long commitment to justice and peace in our own and all communities. Amen.
Assurance of Grace
God forgives us the ways we misuse both holy-days and civic celebrations and calls us forth, unbound, to care, day-by-day, everyday, for the world.
Improv on “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies”
A long history of riffs on this poem of Katherine Lee Bates begins with her Wellesley students, including one of my grandmothers, honoring Bates with a version at graduation, that substitutes “Crown thy good with sisterhood, from sea to shining sea.”
Beautiful are spacious skies,
but not just Wyoming and South Dakota,
where open seems to go on forever.
Beautiful are dark Maine forests,
Detroit streets and Carlsbad caverns.
Beautiful are amber grains,
and also the indigo waves of the Pacific,
purple mountains, urban canyons,
and Mississippi delta, too.
Beautiful are fruited places —
Washington apples and Georgia peaches
Texas grapefruit, Finger Lake grapes
and the hands who pick that fruit.
Beautiful are the pilgrim feet
of Plymouth Rock and Ellis Island.
More lovely are those feet when they stand
humble before Trail of Tears feet,
the feet of those brought here in chains,
feet blistered crossing the desert,
feet in ankle bracelets of ICE.
Beautiful are heroes of so many wars,
those who gave their lives,
and families who gave their loves.
Beautiful are others who came back
troubled in their hearts,
or with nightmares and missing limbs,
who need more than twice-a-year parades
resources for a peace-time life.
Beautiful are heroes of many kinds —
who fight fires, police streets, guard coasts,
ride the ambulances.
Beautiful are emergency-room staff,
social workers and addiction counselors,
the Navajo poet on the reservation,
the boxing coach in the Bronx.
America, called beautiful, diversity’s your pride.
Let justice bless, compassion sing,
and not one of the I-have-a-dreams
of even one of your children … ever be denied.