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We Must Remember…

November 8, 2018

It seems a bit ironic to be reflecting on Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in the sunshine and on the water on vacation. This year we remember the silencing of the machinery of war 100 years ago in Europe at the conclusion of World War One. Sadly, the treaty signed that day began the flames that would soon enough engulf the Continent and eventually the world in yet another war on a massive scale. As for the hopes in the promise that this would be the war to end all wars? In the words of Eric Bogle in his song, No Man’s Land (The Green Fields of France), it would happen again and again and again.

I grew up observing the holiday in the US as Veteran’s Day… a time to remember and honor the living. We honor and remember the dead on Memorial Day. Yet when I was first stationed in England with the USAF I was honored to be asked to officiate at the Remembrance Sunday service at All Saints Church in Croughton.

In that tiny village, the bell tolled 36 times… most of the names on the memorial were from the First World War. Americans were late to enter the war, and even though I had studied the war in the US, it wasn’t until I was in England that I saw the personal cost of the war. An entire generation was killed in a war where tens of thousands died in battles that were often stalemates and many more carried the invisible scars of Battle Fatigue (that was what we called PTSD back then).

The following are excerpts from the Remembrance Sunday Service Order that is used throughout the Commonwealth:

Let us pledge ourselves anew to the service of God

and our fellow men and women:

that we may help, encourage, and comfort others,

and support those working for the relief of the needy

and for the peace and welfare of the natlons.

Lord God,
we pledge ourselves
to serve you and all humankind,
in the cause of peace,
for the relief of want and suffering,
and for the praise of your name.
Guide us by your Spirit;
give us wisdom;
give us courage;
give us hope;
and keep us faithful
now and always. Amen.

While we observe the Centennial of the ending of the First World War, we must realize that the work of peace is far from complete. As a nation… as a society… as a church… as a world… the flames of nationalism, nativism, and hatred which have spawned too many wars, continue to be stoked anew…

It was ironic that the last service I participated in was a few months before I deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom… I took this picture in the parish church in Dickleburgh, near the RAF Station Thorpe Abbot where American Airmen flew during the Second World War as a part of the 100th Bomb Group. The poppies seem to be watered by the baptismal font. The Poppy is a sign of remembrance and is memorialized in the poem, In Flanders Field.

Nourished by the waters of our baptism… nourished by the love of God (however you understand God)… praying for and working for peace… I believe with all of my heart, that is how we ought to remember them. As a Veteran, I choose to honor and remember in that way.

I invite you, dear reader, to do the same. Bells may be rung, Veterans may be honored… but more importantly than that, we must take up the cause laid out in Micah 6:8… Do Justice, Love Kindness and Mercy… Walk Humbly with God, and I would add, one another…

Then, perhaps, we can truly remember them… as the concluding words of the Act of Remembrance state…

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

We will remember them.

May we remember them by being, in the words of St Francis of Assisi, Instruments of Peace…

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