Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Ceremonial Prayer

While the nature of the war we are fighting has changed over the course of this conflict, the Army's desire to properly see it' young warriors off has not. It's called simply a Deployment Ceremony and it is at one and the same time celebratory and sobering. Today my brigade conducted such a ceremony and it was attended by several thousand soldiers and civilians in the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. There was music, marching, and speeches. And for many the highlight was having the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin as our key note speaker. She spoke with the passion of a leader, the eloquence of a scholar, and the heart of a mother. Afterward, my family and I pressed through the mass of humanity balled around her and had our picture with her. She was so gracious to my wife and kids, asking my daughter where she goes to school and thanking my wife for her service to our country. It was an honor to meet her, shake her hand, and listen to her speak. For me, however, the highlight was elsewhere. As an officer my world revolves around my soldiers, especially as we prepare to head downrange. As a chaplain my heart is in knowing that my soldiers run to the sound of battle with the protection of God blanketing them. So for me the highlight of today's ceremony was when I was able to pray for all my soldiers in one place at one time. The difficulty in offering such a prayer is that it can very easily turn into a mere wordsmithed formality while not speaking into the hearts of my soldiers or into the heart God. So I struggle with these kinds of occasions. In the end it was my honor to invoke the presence of God at the ceremony and in the lives of my paratroopers. There may be those who are headed downrange and no one has prayed for them. I pray the same prayer for them as well...

Almighty God, in whose hand alone reside war and peace, life and death;
As you guide our nation to lead the world to peace, I can do no better than to plead your blessing and protection on these great men and women that they may trust in your defense and not fear the power of any adversary. Lead our leaders, I pray, as they will be asked to make decisions that most men would rather not make.
You have brought us in safety to this new day. You have trained our hands for war and our fingers for battle. Now preserve us with your might. Direct us to the fulfilling of your plan as we carry out the plans of those you have placed over us. Only you fully know of the trials and triumphs we will face in the coming days and as we depart our friends, families, and the comforts of home, guide and govern each of us by your Holy Spirit for it is only by your grace that we will be sustained, protected and preserved. Bless and comfort our families as they watch and wait. Grant them the peace in the middle of uncertainty that only you can offer.
It is in your name we pray.


Judy Laquidara said...

Hey, I want my picture taken with Gov. Palin! Just showed the picture to my son and he said "I'd like to meet Sarah Palin!" I've printed that prayer; will tape it on my vanity mirror and pray it every day for all who serve our great country!

Mitch Lewis said...

Nice prayer, chaplain. And amen.

Maria said...

God go with you and all the men and women in your unit. I will continue to pray for you and our nation, as well as for comfort and peace for your family while you are away. Be safe and thank you for serving our country.

God bless,
Cape Cod

Dale Braun said...

Hey, Brad! Great picture of the whole family... If only Odie was there, too!. It's a far cry from Sullivan Heights, but you've got a larger group for bible study. I'm so grateful that you, as a minister of the Gospel, are still allowed to pray over our servicemembers. That's one freedom that I pray won't go away.

All our love from Oregon,
Dale, Lisa, Andrew & Jeremy Braun

And Harley, too! (He has Bubbles' coloring, and Fred's look & temperment)