One hundred and three years ago on this day, a terrible war was at last grinding to a halt across much of the world. Those in charge of the perpetrating that war decided to declare an armistice on the feast day of the patron saint of soldiers (as well as conscientious objectors). So, on the Feast of St. Martin the Merciful of Tours, the trenches across Europe and Asia at long last grew silent, and the so-called “Great War” shuddered to a bloody halt. Today, here in America, we call today, Veteran’s Day. We must never forget this as a day of peace honoring first that one who had the strength to lay down his weapons and take up the shield of faith, clothing himself in a spirit of service to others.
The assigned readings in today’s lectionary valorize not war, but peace. The reading from Isaiah is a bold proclamation of abundance that leads to the celebration of the dream of God for our lives. The prophetic words insist not that might makes right, but that the greatest strength is demonstrated by standing in solidarity with the vulnerable and the oppressed. The gospel reading insists that the face of Christ is found in every person in need whom we encounter, just as Martin showed mercy on a beggar in Amiens and gave him half his cloak, the first step in his journey from soldier to servant of Christ. And so, may we take a moment to center our hearts in gratitude for those who have laid aside their own desires to embrace a life of service, humility, and compassion, and to seek to follow in that same path.
We praise You,
O Compassionate One,
and lift our hearts
to be filled by your light.
May we embrace your call to sacrifice
that we may seek to serve others
as Blessed Martin did,
seeking not our own will but yours.
May we devote our lives and resources to peace
and the good of others:
setting the oppressed free,
feeding the hungry,
clothing those who are naked,
housing the homeless and the refugee.
Clothe us, O Lord,
in a spirit of compassion and generosity,
draped in a mantle of honor and integrity:
give us the imagination
to see ourselves
in the place of our suffering kindred.
May we see the face of our Savior,
in the one shivering in the cold,
and in the refugee fleeing the ravages of war.
May we put down our swords
in the name of your love, Blessed Jesus,
and work for true peace in the world.
Grant your peace and healing, O Great Physician,
to all in recovery from the shock and horror of war,
that they may lay down their arms in safety and gratitude
Pour out your spirit upon us,
O God of Grace,
and grant your blessing to all who seek You.
The Rev. Leslie Scoopmire is a writer, musician, and a priest in the Diocese of Missouri. She is rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, MO. She posts daily prayers, meditations, and sermons at her blog Abiding In Hope, and collects spiritual writings and images at Poems, Psalms, and Prayers.