Growing up in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s meant that sometimes, about half of any given class room was made up of the children of military personnel. From time to time news trickled down to us about a military or police action, or even a war. Naturally, we talked about it and had plenty of opinions.
What made the greatest impression on me is that I have yet to meet a child of a soldier, sailor or airman who wanted a war. We understood that it may be inevitable, necessary perhaps but never desirous. For me, people who question the choice to put military personnel in harm’s way are not necessarily peace-loving beatniks or (worse) unpatriotic. They can be people like me, who simple can’t imagine seeing war (or other military actions) as anything but an absolute last resort.
So in worship, we always pray for those people who have paid the supreme sacrifice in war in Afghanistan because their sacrifice and that of their family needs to be honoured.
By naming them in our prayers we also engage in an act of contrition, admitting to God and one another that we have failed. War, no matter what, is at the outset a failure, proof that we have failed to achieve peace.
By naming them in our prayers we also engage in an act of protest, aimed squarely at our political leaders, reminding them that despite the motivation of our “enemies” we must continue (even as the bullets fly) to work to achieve peace. Otherwise, another name will (inevitably) roll from our lips, sink into our hearts and cause us to ache for those who will grow up without one of their parents.
Prayer, at all times, seeks to change not God but us and our world. Pray for peace.