With the start of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, in an effort to support all those in conflict, the church started lighting a lamp at the beginning of every worship service to remember them in prayer. We have now done so for almost 20 years.
As the pastor, I want to start a conversation about whether or not we continue to light the lamp. The war in Iraq is officially over. US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of 9/ 11. US troops are always stationed around the world near conflict.
As a pastor I think it is important that we do what we do in worship for a reason and not because we have always done it that way. During the pandemic and being absent from the sanctuary we have not lit the lamp every week.
Is this the time to cease lighting the lamp of safety in worship? With the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan effective this coming September 11th, might that be a time to cease lighting the lamp, especially since our troops moving into Afghanistan was much of what prompted lighting the lamp almost 20 years ago?
If we continue to light the lamp, what is our purpose in doing so?
I will admit, as the pastor, and as a member of the US Army as a chaplain and as one who has appreciated the lamp being lit, especially during my own deployment to Iraq, I lean toward it being time to cease lighting it. The discontinuation of lighting the lamp after this September 11th seems to be an appropriate and fitting time to stop. I lean in this direction partly due to the withdrawal of US troops from an identified war zone this coming September and partly due to not wanting the action to become less meaningful or significant.
What are your thoughts? This article is for the purpose of starting a discussion, not stopping a discussion. As the pastor I do not want to make the decision but instead invite you to talk about what the Lamp of Safety has meant to you during these years of conflict and how you would like us to move forward. I also encourage you to consider, given the reason we started lighting the lamp, when is an appropriate time to extinguish it until another time we choose to bring it back as a powerful symbol and reminder of God’s Holy Spirit working among us and God’s providential care of us.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.