Psychologists are beginning to think about the spiritual wounds of war that don’t result from the trauma and fear that leads to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but from witnessing or committing acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs. The common term for this malady is “moral injury”, a wound to the conscience that results in feelings of shame and alienation. Like PTSD, it can produce maladaptive and self-destructive behaviors.
As I have previously mentioned, I found the most healing on my own return from war in the worship life of my church. I offer this invitation as a “think piece”, a another step in shaping my own understanding with regard to how worship can restore wholeness to Christian veterans with wounded spirits.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, comrades in arms, you have passed through the fiery trial of combat. The Lord Jesus now invites you to come to the table of peace.
On the night he instituted this sacred meal, the elders of the people sent an armed militia to snatch Jesus away from those he loved and to bring him before their tribunal. With their weapons drawn, the soldiers invaded his place of prayer, as if he were an insurgent or a dangerous criminal. In the darkness they bound him and dragged him away to stand trial, first before the high council, and then before the Roman governor. As they held Jesus in their custody, the soldiers beat him with rods and whips. To inflict insult upon injury, they spat on him, taunted him and mocked him. And when Pilate issued the sentence of death, the soldiers followed orders. They nailed our Lord to a wooden cross, and then they stole his clothing. On the cross, he struggled in pain for every breath until he died.
When it was all over, one of the soldiers participating in Jesus’ execution began to understand what they had done and he cried out, “Surely this man was innocent.”
As the Lord Jesus suffered upon the cross, he prayed for those who treated him so cruelly, saying “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.”
And to those who gathered with him on the night before his death, he gave a cup of wine, saying, “Drink from this, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
This table is the feast of our Lord’s incomprehensible mercy, poured out for all who will receive it, even for those who crucified him.
Come, behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Come taste the joy of reconciliation at the table of peace.
Come, rest in the God’s embrace, the Father who welcomes home his prodigal sons and daughters.
Come, receive in bread and wine a foretaste of God’s coming kingdom, where swords will no longer clash in anger, and where we will study war no more.
Brothers and sisters, our Lord bids you come.