God of life and community, once again we gather here to mark the 11th of the 11th. We come together as people from many backgrounds and histories, brought together in one place remembering Jesus’ prayer “that all may be one”.
God of community, you have called us to live with our brothers and sisters in peace and justice. So as we gather we echo the sung prayers “Let there be peace on earth, let this be the moment now” and “all we are saying, is give peace a chance”. Awaken in the hearts of humanity the drive for a world where peace and justice flourish.
But even as we gather to share our hopes for peace we also remember that we, as the people of the world, have all too often failed to hear your call for peace and justice. And so today we pause to remember millions who have been victimized by wars of aggression, wars fought for reasons noble and base, wars fought in many places on this ball of life we share.
Specifically today we remember places with names that sound strange and foreign to Canadian ears: Ypres, Passchendale, Vimy, Ortona, Juno Beach, Hong Kong, Kandahar – places where young men wearing the Maple Leaf fought and died or fought and were changed in the name of God, King, and country. We also remember those who remained, and remain, at home waiting and wondering and worrying.
God of all the people of the world, on this day we remember more than those Canadians who went and fought in strange lands. WE remember all soldiers, those in uniform and those in everyday clothes, who fight on battlefields. We remember those who are not fighters but are instead caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, civilians trapped between fighting forces. We remember people of many nationalities: German, British, Japanese, Australian, Italian, Dutch, Afghani, American, Iraqi – we remember their losses and pray that all who suffer will know your comfort and compassion.
God of life, we give thanks for the love and bravery of all who answer, in many different ways, the call to serve God and neighbour in times of conflict. We think of their commitment, their sense of duty, their willingness to risk all and we honour them.
Gracious God, on this day of memory, when we think of those who went and never returned, and of those who returned wounded in body or in spirit, we also pause to name those from this Legion community who have died since last we gathered in this way (read names).
Now, God who calls us to be peacemakers and peace-bringers, we who have remembered and honoured prepare to return to the world. May we carry with us a renewed commitment to be people of peace. May all who gather in this way today in communities large and small become activists for peace and justice at home and abroad. Help us to remember the importance of seeking peace, true peace, and that this peace will never come from a gun barrel – only from the changed hearts of your children. May we never forget that the cost of peace’s absence has already been far too high.
God of peace the surpasses all our understanding, we pray our remembrances and our hopes in the name of the one called the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Christ, who taught us all to pray by saying together:
Our Father, who art in heaven, ...