a veterans day prayer of peace by shane claiborne

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Thursday, November 11th, 2010

a veterans day prayer of peace by shane claiborne

i find veteran’s day to be a tricky day of observance and remembrance (those who know me well and have read this blog for any amount of time won’t be surprised by that statement). on one hand, i genuinely cannot fathom the depth of commitment and self-sacrifice by our country’s veterans (i certainly haven’t been willing to it). they have truly put themselves in harm’s way (ultimately leading to death for countless numbers) for the sake of millions of people they have never and will never meet. i have a rich history of military service throughout my family, with many uncles and grandfathers and everyone in between serving in wars such as korea and vietnam to the latest mission in iraq/afghanistan. so certainly, on the one hand, i’m genuinely thankful.

on the other hand, though, as a follower of jesus, i can’t run from the fact that our country has a shameful tradition of war and brutality throughout the world (not to mention on our own soil). it’s shocking that so many people fiercely argue that we are a “christian nation” when our country has engaged and is currently engaging in killing through military power. these things are simply incompatible with following in the radically peaceful way of jesus.

i realize that any time someone starts a conversation about these things, they are instantly called unpatriotic or unamerican or simply ungrateful, provoking peoples’ most deeply held allegiances to both god and country.

but i’d rather reframe the conversation. i think there’s a better way to honor our veterans.

instead of celebrating our bloody history and instead of, as a follower of jesus, pointing the finger at those who have engaged in war, i’d like to offer a prayer of peace. this prayer certainly offers repentance for our past sins as a nation, but, more than anything, looks toward a time in which we no longer have to celebrate our veterans for the bloodshed in which they’ve participated, but the peacemaking they’ve engaged in throughout the world. this is a future that we can and should all rally around.

i’m currently a part of a book group at our church in which we’re reading shane claiborne’s jesus for president. just a few weeks in, the group has spawned some great conversation and i think we’ve all grown through the challenging text. in one of the appendices, claiborne offers a “litany of resistance”. in essence, it’s a prayer of response designed to be read and prayed together in a communal setting. (if you’d like to see it actually happening in real life, here’s a video of claiborne leading it at the catalyst conference a couple years ago.)

my subtext to this prayer is that it is much more of an honor to veterans than a simple remembrance of war and the use of power.

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Jesus For President Litany of Resistance
Created with the help of our friends Jim Loney (CPT Reservist) and Brian Walsh (activist theologian)

One: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
All: Have mercy on us
One: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
All: Free us from the bondage of sin and death
One: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
All: Hear our prayer. Grant us peace.

One: For the victims of war
All: Have mercy
One: Women, men and children
All: Have mercy
One: The maimed and the crippled
All: Have mercy
One: The abandoned and the homeless
All: Have mercy
One: the imprisoned and the tortured
All: Have mercy
One: The widowed and the orphaned
All: Have mercy
One: The bleeding and the dying
All: Have mercy
One: The weary and the desperate
All: Have mercy
One: The lost and the forsaken
All: Have mercy

One: O God — Have mercy on us sinners
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For our scorched and blackened earth
All: Forgive us
One: For the scandal of billions wasted in war
All: Forgive us
One: For our arms makers and arms dealers
All: Forgive us
One: For our Caesars and Herods
All: Forgive us
One: For the violence that is rooted in our hearts
All: Forgive us

One: For the times we turn others into enemies
All: Forgive us
One: Deliver us, O God
All: Guide our feet into the way of peace
One: Hear our prayer.
All: Grant us peace.

One: From the arrogance of power
All: Deliver us
One: From the myth of redemptive violence
All: Deliver us
One: From the tyranny of greed
All: Deliver us
One: From the ugliness of racism
All: Deliver us
One: From the cancer of hatred
All: Deliver us
One: From the seduction of wealth
All: Deliver us
One: From the addiction of control
All: Deliver us
One: From the idolatry of nationalism
All: Deliver us
One: From the paralysis of cynicism
All: Deliver us
One: From the violence of apathy
All: Deliver us
One: From the ghettos of poverty
All: Deliver us
One: From the ghettos of wealth
All: Deliver us
One: From a lack of imagination
All: Deliver us
One: Deliver us, O God
All: Guide our feet into the way of peace
One: We will not conform to the patterns of this world
All: Let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds
One: With the help of God’s grace
All: Let us resist evil wherever we find it

One: With the waging of war
All: We will not comply
One: With the legalization of murder
All: We will not comply
One: With the slaughter of innocents
All: We will not comply
One: With laws that betray human life
All: We will not comply
One: With the destruction of community
All: We will not comply
One: With the pointing finger and malicious talk
All: We will not comply
One: With the idea that happiness must be purchased
All: We will not comply
One: With the ravaging of the earth
All: We will not comply
One: With principalities and powers that oppress
All: We will not comply
One: With the destruction of peoples
All: We will not comply
One: With the raping of women
All: We will not comply
One: With governments that kill
All: We will not comply
One: With the theology of empire
All: We will not comply
One: With the business of militarism
All: We will not comply
One: With the hoarding of riches
All: We will not comply
One: With the dissemination of fear
All: We will not comply

One: Today we pledge our ultimate allegiance… to the Kingdom of God
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To a peace that is not like Rome’s
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the Gospel of enemy love
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the Kingdom of the poor and broken
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To a King that loves his enemies so much he died for them

All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the least of these, with whom Christ dwells
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the transnational Church that transcends the artificial borders of nations
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the refugee of Nazareth
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the homeless rabbi who had no place to lay his head
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the cross rather than the sword
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the banner of love above any flag
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the one who rules with a towel rather than an iron fist
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the one who rides a donkey rather than a war-horse
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the revolution that sets both oppressed and oppressors free
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the Way that leads to life
All: We pledge allegiance
One: To the Slaughtered Lamb
All: We pledge allegiance
One: And together we proclaim his praises, from the margins of the empire to the centers of wealth and power
All: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb
One: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb
All: Long Live the Slaughtered Lamb

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