[The following is a transcript of the invocation I did for the 1st Annual Veterans Free Festival held at the Citizens Business Bank Arena parking lot, Ontario, CA on 11/09/13.]
Good morning. Thank you for coming today. [My name is 1LT Christian Torres. I’m a Chaplain Candidate and I also jump out of planes. Apparently, my soldiers not only want me to pray for them, they want me jumping with them as well.] My task here this morning is to do the invocation. And I count it to be a great privilege and responsibility. Allow me to express my appreciation to all veterans. Give me a hearty shout out when I mention your branch. Air Force. Navy. Marine Corps. Coast Guard. Army. Let’s give them a round of applause.
On the last stanza of Battle Hymn of the Republic, Julia Ward Howe writes,In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me; As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free! While God is marching on.
As God made the ultimate sacrifice to make men holy, the men and women of the cloth of our nation have sacrificed greatly to preserve the freedoms that we Americans enjoy. Many have died, indeed, to make us free. Many of us are yet still willing to live up to that exhortation. Ladies and gentlemen of our country’s military, for your sacrifices, we thank you.
And now, we bow for the invocation.
>>> Almighty God, I come to your throne of grace before these precious people. I come to you because you are omnipotent, all-present and all-knowing God. You are strong. We are weak. You are holy. We are not. You know every fiber of our being. You created us. Therefore we come to you for help. We come to you for you alone are our hope. I thank you for these dear veterans from all of our country’s services. Thank you for giving them strength. I ask you to grant them the grace specific for their individual needs.
And now I pray for those who are currently deployed and for their families:Eternal Father, strong to save, Whose arm hath bound the restless wave, Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep Its own appointed limits keep, O hear us when we cry to thee For those [the Navy, the Coast Guard] in peril on the sea!1 Lord, guard and guide the men [and women] who fly Through the great spaces in the sky. Be with them always in the air, In darkening storms or sunlight fair. O hear us when we lift our prayer For those in peril in the air!2 Eternal Father, grant we pray, To all Marines, both night and day, The courage, honor, strength, and skill Their land to serve, they law fulfill; Be thou the shield forevermore From every peril to the Corps.3 Be with our [Army] troops upon the land, And all who for their country stand: Be with these guardians day and night And may their trust be in they might.4 O thus be it ever when free people shall stand Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation; Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land Praise the Power that has 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.5
All this I pray in “the Name above all names,” in the One who “died to make men holy,” in the One who gives us the courage to say, “so let us die to make men free,” amen.
1 William Whiting (1825-1878), Eternal Father, Strong to Save, public domain.
2 Mary C. D. Hamilton, public domain.
3 J. E. Seim (1966), public domain.
4 Author Unknown, about 1955.
5 Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), public domain.