Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Dayton National Cemetery

Today is Memorial Day, the unofficial start of Summer but also the day when we remember those men and women in uniform who died in the service of the country. I think it's sad that the Episcopal Church does not have a designated proper for this day, either for the Daily Office or the Eucharist. There is an Office of the Dead, and several votive propers For The Departed, and a single thanksgiving For Heroic Service, but that seems to be it. The Church of Canada BCP references Remembrance Day, but uses the proper For the Faithful Departed as well. The CofE doesn't have anything specific, as far as I can tell, and my paper copy of Evangelical Lutheran Worship doesn't have a proper either.

I wonder why that is? I realize that there is some tension in Christianity on the issue of war (well, in some circles of Christianity, that is), but I can tell you that I got some feedback when some of my own parishioners didn't think we were observing Memorial Day enough in yesterday's worship. (For the record, we named the veterans we know in our cemetery in the Prayers of the People and concluded with the Prayer for Heroic Service. At a parishioner's request, we went off the program just before the dismissal to sing "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" as well.) At the same time, we have propers for all sorts of occasions, why not today?

Here's an attempt:

Collect (for Heroic Service, BCP p. 839)

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

First Lesson: 1 Chronicles 11:15-19

Three of the thirty chiefs went down to the rock to David at the cave of Adullam, while the army of Philistines was encamped in the valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold; and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. David said longingly, “O that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” Then the Three broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and they brought it to David. But David would not drink of it; he poured it out to the Lord, and said, “My God forbid that I should do this. Can I drink the blood of these men? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. The three warriors did these things.

or 1 Chronicles 11:26-47:

The warriors of the armies were Asahel brother of Joab, Elhanan son of Dodo of Bethlehem, Shammoth of Harod,i Helez the Pelonite, Ira son of Ikkesh of Tekoa, Abiezer of Anathoth, Sibbecai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite, Maharai of Netophah, Heled son of Baanah of Netophah, Ithai son of Ribai of Gibeah of the Benjaminites, Benaiah of Pirathon, Hurai of the wadis of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite, Azmaveth of Baharum, Eliahba of Shaalbon, Hashemj the Gizonite, Jonathan son of Shagee the Hararite, Ahiam son of Sachar the Hararite, Eliphal son of Ur, Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite, Hezro of Carmel, Naarai son of Ezbai, Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar son of Hagri, Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah, Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, Uriah the Hittite, Zabad son of Ahlai, Adina son of Shiza the Reubenite, a leader of the Reubenites, and thirty with him, Hanan son of Maacah, and Joshaphat the Mithnite, Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jeiel sons of Hotham the Aroerite, Jediael son of Shimri, and his brother Joha the Tizite, Eliel the Mahavite, and Jeribai and Joshaviah sons of Elnaam, and Ithmah the Moabite, Eliel, and Obed, and Jaasiel the Mezobaite.

Psalm: 56 Miserere mei, Deus

Have mercy on me, O God, for my enemies are hounding me; * all day long they assault and oppress me.
They hound me all the day long; * truly there are many who fight against me, O Most High.
Whenever I am afraid, * I will put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not be afraid, * for what can flesh do to me?
All day long they damage my cause; * their only thought is to do me evil.
They band together; they lie in wait; * they spy upon my footsteps; because they seek my life.
Shall they escape despite their wickedness? * O God, in your anger, cast down the peoples.
You have noted my lamentation; put my tears into your bottle; * are they not recorded in your book?
Whenever I call upon you, my enemies will be put to flight; * this I know, for God is on my side.
In God the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not be afraid, * for what can mortals do to me?
I am bound by the vow I made to you, O God; * I will present to you thank-offerings;
For you have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, * that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Second Lesson: Ephesians 6:10-17

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The Gospel: Luke 12: 4-7

Jesus said, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authoritya to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. 7 But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. "

Preface of Commemoration of the Dead.

What do you think? If not these collect and lessons, what might you use? Maybe we can put a proper together and use next year - I know here at St. Thomas's that would be welcome, maybe even as an ecumnical service before the parade starts at noon.



The Postulant said...

I think the first OT lesson is a particularly inspired choice. If you assigned the second one to a lector, that person might never speak to you again -- worse than the Parthians, Medes, and Elamites! I understand your thinking, though; the roll-call of the war dead is quite appropriate. (Assign it to a seminary intern as a kind of hazing!) The Collect for Heroic Service is perfect for the day, and I wish we heard it more often.

RFSJ said...

A seminarian! Perfect! If only I had one :-)