Prayer written for an Armistice Day service in 1958
50 Years On: a prayer for peace
My late father Murray McGregor was frequently asked to officiate at services for special occasions. Although he was not an ordained minister he was the son of one and was very well read in addition to being a deeply committed Christian. He was deeply religious and committed to spreading the Word and the life of faith. He had a deeply-held belief in personal growth, that all people in whatever circumstances, can be better, can grow in knowledge and wisdom. This belief flowed directly out of his Christian convictions.
He invariably used these occasions to promote peace and understanding, as in this prayer, written exactly 50 years ago this month. It is dated 9 November 1958, and he used it again on 13 November 1960.
In 1958 he was the Superintendent of Blythswood Insititution in the then Transkei (now part of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa) and so I imagine that the prayer was used at an Armistice Day service in Butterworth, a nearby town.
In 1960 he was principal at Buntingville High School near Mthatha and so the prayer was probably used at an Armistice Day service there.
I have written this Hub to commemorate his life and his dedication to peace and justice in this month when we recall the sacrifices of so many, especially in the two wars known as the World Wars – that of 1914 – 1918 and that of 1939 – 1945.
My father, towards the end of his life, wrote a memoir of his life which I have captured in a WordPress blog with the title he gave his memoir: Leaves from My Logbook.
The original he wrote in Afrikaans, and I have added my free and, no doubt, not very adequate translation.
The prayer in Afrikaans
O Almagtige God en Hemelse Vader!
Ons dank U dat ons weer vanoggend die vooreg het om hier in vrede bymekaar the kom om U Heilige Naam aan the roep, en U the loof en dank vir al die liefdegawes wat one so mildellik uit U Vaderhand ontvang. U het ons rykelik geseën, en elke dag oorlaai U ons met nuwe gawes.
Maar, O Heer, ons smeek U, laat elkeen van ons besef dat hy al hierdie seëninge heeltemaal onwaardig is; laat elke hart verstaan dat al hierdie gawes aan ons geskenk word nie omdat ons dit verdien nie maar net uit U genade en liefde jeens ons. En laat hierdie waarheid elkeen van ons dwing om hom voor die Heilige aangesig the verootmoedig.
Maar, O Heer, ons dank U ook dat ons na U toe mag kom om onse gebede voor U the doen, want ons kom allen in die Heilige Naam van Jesus Christus onse Verlosser.
Vandag dink ons veral aan die opoffering wat in twee Wêreldoorlor soveel duisende van ons landgenote gemaak is. Here, verhoed dit, ons smeek U, dat ons ooit daardie opoffering mag vergeet, dat ons nooit dink aan die onvolmaakte taak wat die gesneuweldes aan ons opgelê het, om ons geliefde vaderland end die hele wêreld ‘n beter plek the maak, waar elke persoon gelukkig kan lewe en waar elkeen sy deel van die gawes van U vaderhand in vrede en voorspoed kan geniet.
Vergeef ons, onse God, dat ons dikwels so selfsugtig is, dat ons so doof en blind is wanneer ons medemens in nood is, dat ons hart so koud is. Skep in ons ‘n nuwe hart en ‘n nuwe gees, sodat elkeen van ons altyd sy beste sal doen om sy medemens the help en hom gelukkiger the maak.Ons bid ook vanoggend vir al die volkere van die wêreld met hul regeerders. Vergeef ons, Heere, dat vandag, 2000 jaar na die koms van U Heilige Seun op aarde, daar nog oorlog in so baie plekke heers, en dat al die grrot moondhede nog mekaar met agterdog aanskou en altyd bereid moet staan om skielike aanvalle af the weer.
Ons seem U dus, spreek U vrede woord uit oor die volke en hul heersers, sodat di golwe van die menslike gemoed mag bedaar, net soos onse Heere Jesus die golwe van die see laat bedaar het.
Seën, O Liefdevolle Vader, elke poging wat aangewend word om vrede op aarde tot stand the bring, en gee U leiding aan al ons regeerders, dat elkeen wat U geroep het om ‘n leier van sy volk the wees sy verantwoordelikheid mag besef, en mag streef om die geluk en vrede van al U kinders the handhaaf.
Wees nou verder met ons, O Heer; spreek tot elke siel hier voor U aangesig vergader, en laat elkeen van ons nou en altyd U woord gehoorsaam.
Dit alles vra ons alleen in die naam van Jesus Christus, U Seun, onse Heiland.
The prayer in English
O almighty God and heavenly father!
We thank you this morning that we are able to come before you again in peace to call on your holy name, and to praise you and to thank you for all the gifts of love which we receive in such profusion from your fatherly hands. You have blessed us richly, and each day you You overwhelm us with new gifts.
But, O Lord, let each of us understand that we are completely unworthy of all these blessings; let each heart understand that all of these gifts are given us, not because we deserve them, but only because of your mercy and love towards us. And let this truth compel each of us to humble ourselves before your countenance.
But, O Lord, we also thank you that we know we can place our prayers before you, because we come only in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
Today we think especially of the sacrifices made by many thousands of our fellow-countrymen in two World Wars. Lord, please prevent us from ever forgetting that sacrifice, that we should never think of the unfulfilled task that those who died have left us, to make a better place of our fatherland and the whole world, where every person can live happily and where every person can enjoy, in peace and prosperity, their share of the gifts we receive from your Fatherly hand.
Forgive us, our God, that we are so often selfish, that we are so deaf and blind whenever our fellows are in need, that our hearts are so cold. Create in us a new heart and a new spirit, so that each of us will always do our best to help our fellows and to make them happier.
We pray this morning also for all the people of the world, with their governments. Forgive us, Lord, that today, 2000 years after the coming into the world of your Holy Son, war still reigns in so many places, and that all the great powers still regard each other with suspicion and have to be ready at all times to ward off sudden attacks.
We beg You therefore, speak Your word of peace out over the people and their rulers, so that the waves of feelings might be calmed, just as our Lord Jesus calmed the waves of the sea.
Bless, o Loving Father, every effort made to bring peace on earth, and guide all our rulers so that each one You have called to be a leader of his people might understand their responsilibity, and strive to uphold the happiness and peace of all Your children.
Be with us still, O Lord; speak to every soul gathered here in Your presence and let each of us now and always obey Your Word.
This all we ask only in the Name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Saviour.
The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.
© Tony McGregor 2009
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