Monthly Archives: November 2017

A Veteran’s Day Invocation

Over the last several years it has been a tradition here in East Greenwich that the rector of St. Luke’s offers an invocation during the town’s Veterans Day Parade.  This year, the rector was away at a conference, so I was asked to give the invocation.  So this past Saturday, I strolled down main street to Town Hall to watch the parade and give the invocation.  Despite the bitter cold there was an excellent turn out.  I was struck by the dedication and service of so many throughout our town to create a special day for all Veterans.  Check out some photos of the day over at East Greenwich News.  Below is a copy of my invocation.  Let us continue to pray for those who have served, those who continue to serve, and that all of us may work for justice and peace for all people so that one day wars might cease in all the world.

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Photo taken by Elizabeth McNamara of East Greenwich News

Let us pray:

O God, the author of peace, we come before you this day to offer our humble gratitude for all those who have answered the call to serve our nation in the Armed Forces.

We come before you this day to offer our prayers for all those who have fought the good fight and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We pray for those who have returned home, whose spirits and bodied are scarred by war, whose nights are haunted by memories too painful for the light of day. We pray for those who have returned home to find themselves neglected and forgotten. Open our hearts that our remembrance and gratitude for them may not be confined to one celebration, one day a year.

This, and every day, may we remember and give thanks for the dedicated service of our home-town heroes who marched on the front lines, who sailed the stormy waters, who flew in the dangerous skies. Let us offer our gratitude for those who served on military bases, staffed our embassies, and guarded our leaders; who worked in factories, classrooms, offices, kitchens, hospitals, and all other outposts of service.

As we celebrate and honor all those who have served, let us also remember those who continue to serve. Those who are stationed in places near and far. Those who do not know when they will see their loved ones again. Those who stand in harms way. Those who stand ready to give their lives for the cause of liberty, freedom, and justice. May our prayer for them always be their safe return home.

As we offer our thanks to all those who have served our nation, we ask that you instill in every person a sense of restlessness at injustice. That no person may rest until all people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. Make us a nation that always strives for the freedom and peace of all people. Give us a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; that one-day we may know wars to cease in all the world. That one day, all of your creation may live in that perfect peace that only you can give. Guide all the people of this land that we may do justice, and love mercy, and walk in the ways of truth.

All of this we pray in your loving, liberating, and life-giving name.  AMEN

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Blessed Martin, Pray for us!

The following reflection on Blessed Martin, Bishop of Tours, was written for the November 12th edition of the St. Luke’s Weekly.  I’ve had some good response to it from parishioners so I thought I would share it here as well.   

Today, November 11, the Church celebrates the feast day of one of my favorite saints: St. Martin of Tours. Blessed Martin was born about the year 330 at Sabaria, the modern Szombathely in Hungary. He spent a great deal of time in his early years in Rome and would complete a term of service in the Roman army. Martin is probably most remembered for two things his cloak and a goose.

In the year 372, Martin was elected Bishop of Tours an office he did not desire. As a way of trying to avoid his election, Martin hid in a barn. As legend has it, when the crowds searched the barn looking for him, a goose went over to where he was hiding and started honking thus giving away his position. The goose has thus been a symbol of Martin and there was even a medieval custom of eating goose on Martinmas (the Feast of St. Martin) as a way of honoring Blessed Martin’s memory. As fun as this legend of Martin and the Goose is, it is far from the most important part of Martin’s story. Martin’s legacy is truly understood and symbolized by his cloak.

While Martin was a catechumen (a person learning the faith and preparing for baptism) a beggar approached him asking for alms in the name of Christ. In that moment, Martin took his sword and cut away part of his military cloak and gave it to the beggar. The next night, Jesus appeared to Martin, clothed in Martin’s military cloak and said, “Martin, a simple catechumen, covered me with this garment.”

Martin took that which symbolized his power and authority, that which symbolized the power, authority, and military might of the Roman Empire and used it for the relief of one poor beggar. He broke from power of the empire to serve those in most in need and found that in doing that he was serving Christ himself.

Shortly after his baptism Martin left the army, took on a life with very strict religious practice, and strived always to live into the servant ministry of Christ: caring for the hungry, the homeless, the stranger, and anyone in need.

This is why I love Blessed Martin. Here is a man who had a significant amount of power and privilege and he gave it up to be a servant of God and a follower of Jesus Christ. Martin embodied in a powerful way the things we commit ourselves to in baptism; the things we are called by the Gospel mandate to follow. For me, Blessed Martin is a reminder of what some have called the movement of Christian resistance. The movement of Christians to resist the powers of this world, and align ourselves with the powers of God that always strive for justice and peace. You may have noticed a small silver metal pinned to my suit jacket each week, that is my Martin medal. It is an outward reminder to me that I have chosen to be a follower of Jesus and that requires me to live my life according the mandates of the gospel. While it is never an easy road, I know that witnesses and saints like Martin will guide me along the way.

As our world is increasingly filled with division, hatred, violence, and all sorts of vitriol, it seems to me that it needs more folks like Martin. More folks to stand on the side of justice and peace. More folks to stand asking the oppressive forces of darkness in this world. More folks to stand on the side of the love of God. More folks to cut their cloaks in half and care for the poor. May we evermore strive to be like Martin as we seek to follow the God who is all about compassion, kindness, grace, forgiveness, and relationship. Saint Martin, pray for us.

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