|Rev. Allyson on the path to the Altar of the Nation|
Yesterday, I had the honor and joy of offering the invocation and benediction at a service held at the Cathedral of the Pines. It was the annual memorial service held for the Fraternal Order of Eagles members and friends. I have never worked with the Order before, but I would be more than willing to do so again. They were wonderful people, with big hearts and open minds.
I sat in the front bench with other presenters at the memorial, and soaked in the slightly diffused sunlight and the majestic view of Mount Monadnock behind the altar. Wreaths were laid out, and flowers as well. Bells were run, and praises sung. I spoke my invocation proudly, happy to be a part of a group of people who have played such a strong part in the success of the Cathedral.
The benediction I used actually comes from the Lutheran Book of Prayer, one which I found while leafing through the book earlier in the morning. I had planned something completely different, but this seemed to fit the situation exactly.
Lord God, in whom there is life and light:
our thanks for those who died for us,
our prayers for those who mourn,
our praise for the hope You have given us.
Refresh our hearts
with dedication to the ideals of heroic men,
with appreciation for the honesty of just men,
with obedience to laws of upright men.
when our patriotism is hollow,
when our nationalism is arrogant,
when our allegiance is halfhearted.
Stir within us
thanksgiving for all we have inherited,
vigilance for the freedoms of all men,
willingness to sacrifice for fellow citizens.
Comfort us with the joy that Christ died for all those who died for us,
bringing life and immortality to light for all.
There was unbroken silence during that benediction, and even the birds were quiet. It seemed a fitting prayer for the men and women who had died in service to our country and to New England in particular. I spoke it slowly, because I wanted to express the feeling of being a part of something larger than ourselves. I felt I achieved my end.
After the service, I wandered around the Cathedral grounds, stopped to talk to a few people, and met up with an old friend. It was lovely to have this chance to be with people who give so much of their lives in service.
What was your Sunday afternoon like?
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