Today I had the privilege of participating in Veteran’s Day ceremonies at the town common.

I was asked to offer the closing prayer and this is what I prayed. I invite you to offer this or a similar prayer as we remember our Veterans.

Holy and righteous God, we have gathered today to honor those who have served our nation in our armed services and to memorialize those who have died in service to our country. We thank you for their courage and selflessness in defending our liberties and resisting evil. We pray especially for those who have come back wounded in body, mind and soul. May they have the courage to reach out for help and may we as a nation respond with compassion and care.

But we also acknowledge this day, our God, that no matter how noble the cause may be that all war is evil in your sight. The death, disease, destruction, heartbreak and suffering that we inflict upon one another breaks your heart as well. It marks the moral failure and lack of imagination of us as a human race. We ask for your forgiveness even as we ask for your wisdom, discernment, and noblest sentiments as we face a deeply complex and violent world. Every generation has its unique threats and challenges that require unique responses, none of which is clear cut, and ours is no different.

So we pray for wisdom in how to defeat the diabolical radicalism of ISIS and all extremist ideologies; we pray for West Africa that the outbreak of Ebola may be contained and a vaccine discovered; we come against groups like Boko Haran in Nigeria who kidnap school girls for their own perverse purposes; we pray for Israel and Palestine that we may one day see a just peace in that land; and we pray for our nation with its violence and too many random shootings of innocents. Have mercy on our war weary world.

As we honor our war dead today, we pray for our leaders in Washington, that they may never send our young men and women into harm’s way without first considering all other alternatives, acknowledging their blind spots and that any decision will ultimately be insufficient in your eyes. Nevertheless, we are bold to pray for your blessing on this great nation of ours even as we ask it for all nations of the world. May we as a people and a nation be a model for patience, a quest for justice, pursuit of human flourishing, and the search for peace.

In your holy name, Amen.

About Norman Bendroth

Norman Bendroth is a Professional Transition Specialist certified by the Interim Ministry Network. He has served as a settled pastor in two United Church of Christ congregations and as a Sr. Interim pastor in seven other UCC congregations. He was also an executive for three different non-profit agencies. He has had additional training in Mediation Skills for Church Leaders from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center and training in Appreciative Inquiry from the Clergy Leadership Institute. Rev. Bendroth has the M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his D. Min. from Andover Newton Theological school where he concentrated on theology and systems theory. He is married to Peggy Bendroth and has two adopted Amerasian children.
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