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Memorial Day is a day to remember and a day to mourn


The cost of war is seen in Ukraine

May 30, 2022

Chaplain Kozachyn (provided)

From Psalm 29 (The Message):

 God’s thunder spits fire.
God thunders, the wilderness quakes;
He makes the desert of Kadesh shake.

 God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing
A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.
We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”

 Above the floodwaters is God’s throne
    from which his power flows,
    from which he rules the world.

 God makes his people strong.
God gives his people peace.

War is neither necessary nor romantic. The deaths that come from war are needless and tragic. Those who give their lives in war may be remembered and honored for their selfless sacrifice, but the wars which brought their deaths are not glorious adventures. Our entry into war may at times be unavoidable but must never be sought. We mourn those killed in war on Memorial Day as we grieve the pain of loss and deprivation.

War in our world is a contradiction — we celebrate and rejoice in the redemption God has made available to all, the peace given through the love and grace of our Lord, and the strength we each can embody as we are filled by the precious Spirit. And yet, war remains even as we know sin and hatred are pervasive despite the very presence of God’s kingdom.

On this Memorial Day, we are reminded of the tragedy of war — we remember and give thanks for those who have given their lives in service to our nation. We have often advanced the cause of freedom and justice through taking up arms to defend and protect the oppressed.

But we are also reminded of the cost of war and the evil that produces it. We see in glaring detail the tragedy heaped on the people of Ukraine.

One loss in Ukraine not often mentioned is Maksym Anatolyovych Kozachyn, a military chaplain of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Ordained in 2000, Chaplain Kozachyn was leaving the Kyiv region when shot and killed by advancing Russian soldiers. The soldiers did not permit locals to remove his body from the car in which he was murdered.

The Ukrainian military has embraced chaplains and has made efforts to ensure all faiths are represented. Many chaplains of the United States and other nations have helped Ukraine develop a sense of chaplaincy. These servants play a critical role in ministering to the members of the besieged and outnumbered Ukrainian forces and have brought a palpable sense of the presence of God into the midst of great suffering and chaos. Chaplain Kozachyn gave his life seeking to be with his people.

Father Andriy Zelinskyy, SJ, the chief military chaplain of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, said in a recent interview, “We find ourselves at a time when the greatest gift we have is in danger, that is, our humanity. “ 

On this Memorial Day, may we remember and mourn those whose lives have been lost in the tragedy of war. May we also remember God makes us strong and gives us peace through the precious humanity and sacrificial obedience of the beloved child — our Savior and Redeemer. May we seek to redeem all our humanity.

A Litany for Ukraine (written by Father Tim Cole, a retired British Army chaplain who is currently the rector of Christ Church [Episcopal], Georgetown, District of Columbia) 

The Litanist says
God of justice and peace, in the face of unthinkable violence in Ukraine:
We pray for the Ukrainian people in their struggle to retain liberty.

Litanist  Lord, in your mercy,
People    hear our prayer.
We pray that they may be spared from trauma, violence and death.

Litanist  Lord, in your mercy,
People    hear our prayer.
We pray that global leaders will stand firm, doing all in their power to protect innocent human life.

Litanist  Lord, in your mercy,
People    hear our prayer.
We pray for the peoples of Europe and of this nation, that we may be united in our defense of liberty, justice and peace.

Litanist  Lord, in your mercy,
People    hear our prayer.
We pray for Russian soldiers, that they may act with restraint and compassion.

Litanist  Lord, in your mercy,
People    hear our prayer.
We pray for the Russian people, that they may reject aggression, violence and war.

Litanist  Lord, in your mercy,
People    hear our prayer.
We pray for the safety of non-combatants.

Litanist  Lord, in your mercy,
People    hear our prayer.
We pray for justice.

Litanist   Lord, in your mercy,
People    hear our prayer.
We pray for peace.

Litanist  Lord, in your mercy,
People    hear our prayer.

A period of silence is kept.

Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincies supports more than 150 PC(USA) chaplains who minister in federal prisons, veteran administration hospitals, and as noncombatants in the military “that all may practice in peace.” Please visit our website at or call (202) 630-6225 for more information.

Lyman Smith, Executive Director, Presbyterian Federal Chaplaincies

Today’s Focus: Memorial Day

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Roger Spalding, Prospect Research Analyst, Relationship & Development Operations, Mission Engagement & Support, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Frank Spencer, President, Board of Pensions

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