Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Holy Week: Praying for peace, praying for those who died in our wars

The psalm assigned for last night’s Evening Prayer included this:
“O God, you know my foolishness, and my faults are not hidden from you. Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, Lord God of hosts…” (Psalm 69:6-7)
No truer words could we pray this Holy Week for ourselves or for the the leaders of our nation and the world.

Yesterday, I had planned to join a procession in Washington DC that marched from the White House to the Capitol Hill praying for the victims of gun violence. I didn’t get there because of the snow.

I stayed behind in Charlottesville. If Holy Week is about feeling low, it didn’t take long for me to get there.

Air Force Capt. Francis Imlay
As we have done every Monday of Holy Week the last five years I have been here, we assembled in the church nave at noon to pray for peace and an end to violence. That is usually my weekday Holy Eucharist in Holy Week, but Father Nik had volunteered to take the service so I could go to Washington. Instead we did it together.

Our custom at St. Paul’s on Monday in Holy Week is to read the names of the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since Holy Week of last year.

There were 15 of us at the noon Eucharist. The people came out from the pews to take a turn reading from the list.

Army Capt. Sara Knutson
There were 189 names on the list. Names like James and Roberto, Jessica and Camelia.

So many, so young.

We began with Francis Imlay, 31, an Air Force pilot from Vacaville, Calif., who crashed a year ago in Central Asia. He had a young son.

We ended with Sara Knutson, 27, an Army captain from Eldersburg, Maryland who died a week ago in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. She was newly married.

So many, so young.
O Lord of Hosts, save us from our foolishness that peace may come at last to this troubled earth, our island home.

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

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