A year ago I was the fill-in pastor for a neighboring community’s Memorial Day service. It was a deeply moving experience for me. I was asked to participate again this year and happily showed up early this morning only to learn that another pastor had been asked and he was none too pleased when the organizing veteran offered me one of his prayers. I could tell he was none to happy and told him that I had no need to participate. I stood amongst children and parents and grandparents and watched that same man carry the wreath while gripping his crutches under his armpits. The same bugler played the haunting melody; the salute to the dead caused me to gasp with each shot.
It is hard not to critique the work of those in my field. I assume the same is true for opposing lawyers; teachers across the hall from each other; even parents do it! However, I worked hard to be open to the prayers offered by this pastor today but I couldn’t. I couldn’t when the words forgot those who died who were not Christian. I couldn’t when he claimed that we must return to the biblical foundation on which this country was formed (whose version of the biblical foundation?). I couldn’t when every image, every image, was masculine and militaristic.
And then I wondered… how often do I use the pulpit (whether it be at Pioneer or the Newbury cemetery) as a soap-box? Too often, I fear.
What about you? What words would you have offered on this Memorial Day?