Prayer for Peace
“We will remember them.”
As we crowded around the war memorial I looked at all the men proudly wearing their army uniforms. As they saluted I looked at their strong posture and the impressive collection of medals displayed on some of their jackets. I pointed out the bugle player to the three year old at my side and watched their face light up at the power of the music. I gazed at the tall white memorial with the bold red poppy wreaths. Glancing down at the poppy pinned to my own coat, I felt proud to see it there.
And yet I also felt ashamed. I felt ashamed at my pride.
The state the men we were remembering died in was gruesome and inhumane. In those final moments, I can’t believe that any of those men felt any pride in the trenches, with rotting bodies and trench foot. When I visited some trenches in Belgium a few years ago, I admit that I was not at all keen to even walk through them. It was muddy, smelly, dark and very claustrophobic – I cannot even bear to imagine the scale of these things whilst all the men were fighting.
On the other hand, the fact that the church was so full it was hard to get a seat (we ended up three people to two seats where I was!) and watching the community gather around to remember the men who gave their lives for our country, did make me feel proud. I felt proud that everyone there forgot their pride and remembered what these men had given up for us many years ago. I hope that this act of remembrance will continue for many years to come.
“We will remember them.”
Later in the day there was a second service for world peace. It was the complete opposite atmosphere to the morning. It was held in the Memorial Chapel with the names of the men from our parish that had died in the war on the wall. As there was only a small gathering the seats were laid out in a circle around a table with a globe on it. Everyone was silent before the service, creating a calm and contemplative atmosphere.
I found the message of the whole service very poignant. I was shocked to find out that around sixty-five countries in the world are at war today. Bearing in mind that there are one hundred and ninety-six countries in the world, this means that a third of them are not at peace. In the bible it says ‘For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.’ (1 Corinthians 14:33) and therefore it is vital that we pray for these countries.
In the sermon, our curate explained a wonderful idea he had for us to do. During the sign of peace where we shake hands and share peace to all those around us, we could also share peace with a country in the world. We did this by using ‘peace leaves’. Next to the globe on the table was the basket containing the sticky backed leaves. During the sharing of the peace we could stick a leaf on a country of our choice on the globe and say a prayer for them. I thought this was a brilliant way to connect with the message we were being told.
Afterwards we each took home some ‘peace leaves’. Looking at them carefully, written on the leaves were the words for peace in various different languages. I am using one as a bookmark, one is on my noticeboard and one is on the kitchen cupboard, as a constant reminder to pray for those who cannot get away from war.
In response to this message, I think it is important to make peace with each other as individuals. When you hear about the trauma some people have experienced, let us not fight or argue about trivial matters.
As there were not many people there to hear this message, on leaving I felt I wanted to do something in response to let it be shared even further with many more people. On Remembrance Day today, all I ask is that you may take a moment to pray for a country at war. After all, the more prayers people say the bigger the response will be.
My hope is that this message of peace may be shared, and even if it only reaches one person I shall be happy, for a little peace and a little prayer go a long way.
‘Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.’ – Psalm 34:14