I have been asked to do the prayers for the Remembrance Day service in one church of the parish in which I have recently started a two month placement. In an effort to both step away from standard forms of published prayers, and to feed my own need for creativity, I have written the following. The words of intercession are wrapped around the words of a sonnet written by the well-known poet-priest Malcolm Guite (published in his book ‘Sounding the Seasons’,) and conclude with more formal words from the Church of England’s, ‘New Patterns for Worship’.
I hope Malcolm will forgive me if he’s not sure his sonnet should have been used this way, or if my words don’t live up to his wordsmithery. I also hope that the parish in which they will be spoken can relate them their own feelings and emotions in the silences that will be offered, and that you, if you have need, might feel free to make use of them. [If you do, please let me know when and where via the ‘comments’ facility.]
November pierces with its bleak remembrance
Of all the bitterness and waste of war;
Our silence tries but fails to make a semblance
Of that lost peace they thought worth fighting for.
Lord God, as we remember with gratitude
the fallen of generations past,
The faces and wounds of those
still very much present in our living memory;
We beseech you again
as heirs of a conflicted humanity,
for that peace which passes all understanding,
And the faith that trusts in your unfailing love.
Our silence seethes instead with wraiths and whispers
And all the restless rumour of new wars,
For shells are falling all around our vespers,
No moment is unscarred, there is no pause.
Jesus Christ, who spoke calm to the storm,
Healing to the diseased and lame
And the assurance of a future to the hopeless;
Make your voice heard by the leaders of all nations and peoples,
That they, with us,
might act with true justice,
and walk humbly with you our God.
In every instant bloodied innocence
Falls to the weary earth, and whilst we stand
Quiescence ends in acquiescence,
And Abel’s blood still cries from every land.
Holy Spirit who stirs our hearts to compassion
In flickering images
That flow with the blood of careless inhumanity;
Let the sparks of our inadequacy and frustration,
Be ignited into the flames of action,
That together we might be prepared to be
Your answer to our fervent prayers.
One silence only might redeem that blood;
Only the silence of a dying God.
Blessed Trinity, who reached into your broken world,
Through the redeeming power of the cross and resurrection
To break the power of darkness;
In your endless grace,
Work in us to restore the knowledge that silence
contains not the seeds of apathy,
nor the truth of lies,
But the fruit of your Kingdom come,
And the hope of eternal life.
In darkness and in light, NPW J6
in trouble and in joy,
help us, heavenly Father,
to trust your love,
to serve your purpose,
and to praise your name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.