Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Remember

A Song
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Words by Francis Scott Key

And a prayer
Lord, in the midst of our grief and the memory of our loss, we gather in your presence and remember: We have feared the terror of the night; We have seen the sacrifices of the brave; We have cried the tears of the lost, and we have clenched our fists and raged against the pain and damage. We have wept and mourned, lashed out and retaliated, we have healed and hoped. Now we gather in your presence to be whole and to walk humbly with our God as the years unfold.

For the families of the many victims we pray that by your mercy life may rise even from ashes. We pray especially for those whose lives are still broken by the tragedies of that day, and ask that by your grace and mercy tattered hearts may know your touch, healing their shattered spirits, reknitting for them a world of hope, and granting them rest from the fury and frustration unjustly imposed upon them.

In the many heroes who sacrificed themselves for others we see the face of Christ. Strengthen those who hold their memory sacred in their needs as you have strengthened all who lay down their lives for their friends.

We pray also for our enemies, Lord. And what we pray for our enemies you have also taught us to pray for ourselves: that they, we, and all of your creation may be free from the powers that turn blessing into burning; free us and them from all that warps our minds and turns to hate the love you intend for all.

Holy one, you are our God in trial and rejoicing. As we remember past tragedy, we seek your wisdom that we may proffer future blessings in your name. Now and in the years to come, help us to place our trust solely in your word and way, and not in imperfect paths of our own design. Our hope is not in the towers we build, or in the roar of war, or in the fervor with which we proclaim our outrage or our piety. Our salvation is in the way of your Christ, in your mercy, and in our kinship with you. Though we mourn and are poor in spirit, may we yet find your kingdom and be blessed.

Thus bless those who gather and remember this day. Bless those who seek the healing after the hurt, and grant us the wisdom we need in this year and all that follow: that we may reap what is of life even in the midst of death. In every circumstance, Lord, bless your people and your world that we may rest and rise, live and die and be reborn in the compassion of Christ. In so doing, may we live always as sisters and brothers at peace, healing a broken world. Amen.

Written by the Rev. Kent H. Gilbert, Pastor, Union Church, Berea, KY

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The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.