Most Novembers, I try to attend a Veterans Day Ceremony. These are held to celebrate, commemorate, and otherwise remember our vets. Having been a clergy-type for lo these many years, I have participated in myriads of these sorts of observances.
My role is usually one as the designated pray-er. This is much like the Designated Hitter in baseball. The DH’s role is quite limited. He doesn’t play the field—only bats when it’s his turn. The rest of the time, he sits in the dugout mentally preparing for his next moment to shine (or fail).
Like any DH, I had been practicing my swing—offering public prayers for decades. Even before I got out of bed that morning, I began thinking about how I should pray. As the words came, I decided I’d better get them down on paper before I lost them (getting old is such a pain). Here are the words I wrote (and later prayed).
Almighty God—We look to you in times of war and in days of peace. We seek you in years of famine and eras of feasting.
We turn to you when things seem to be falling all around us, and when everything appears to be on the rise.
This day is no exception. So we recognize you once again as the Creator of all, the Sustainer of every life, and the Redeemer of anyone who would seek your face.
There are moments in life when we strive to forget. Yet, in this instance, we ask you to help us remember. We ask this because we sometimes ignore who we really are. And we often overlook the sacrifices that brought us to this occasion.
So today—in this place, and during this hour—remind us of your Word that tells us, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.“ (John 15:13) May we be inspired (at least in some small way) to do the same.
We pray and ask this in the name of Christ, and for his glory—Amen.
I batted second in the lineup that day. That kind of prayer is usually called the invocation. I looked up that word and found it means, “to summon the deity.” I suppose that’s what I did. But it seems to me that our Deity summons us (rather than the other way around). Be that as it may, I did my thing and sat down to wait for my next turn at the plate.
I was pleasantly surprised when the main speaker glowingly described the Mighty Oaks Warrior Program that reaches out to returning vets with support and healing through the Gospel of Christ. Quite a change from the normal, civic ceremony in which the Deity is perfunctorily summoned then dismissed.
So when I got up for my final at-bat (the benediction) I was pumped. I don’t know if I hit it out of the park, but I’m pretty sure I got good wood on the ball.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]