Prayers for the Dead at Remembrance Services
Remembrance Sunday is an important and poignant landmark in our nation’s annual calendar, and a day to reflect, give thanks and pray for peace. We see church and civic life combine in silence and remembrance, as we recall the service of those who fell in two world wars and in conflicts since.
However, it remains a continual irritant that the gospel witness of the reformed Church of England is dulled by the frequently-used blessing in the Act of Remembrance that begins, “God grant to the living, grace; to the departed, rest”. Why is prayer for the dead being introduced and commended in this way? Is there not a more suitable prayer than could be used, one that does not introduce an unbiblical concept like praying for the repose of souls?
The Homily on Prayer directly address the question “whether we ought to pray for them that are departed out of this world, or no. Wherein if we will cleave only unto the word of God, then must we needs grant, that we have no commandment so to do.”
Let us honour the fallen, let us remember and give thanks for their sacrifice, but it is the living that need our prayers, those that still suffer and mourn as a consequence of war.