The Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

At yesterday’s Remembrance Day ceremony at Mildenhall there is a brief moment for a comment or reflection. Usually this is to the school children present but yesterday was Saturday. The comment is to be brief – one point – somewhere between one and two minutes. I like that the traditional reading is the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) and it is good to pray before we listen and then stand in silence.

And so from yesterday … first the prayer and then the reflection … Let us pray: God of the living and the dead, console and encourage those for whom Remembrance Day is of profound significance. Be with the widows, widowers, spinsters, orphans, the disabled and all traumatised by war, who together with the dear and honoured dead have sacrificed so much. By your grace work in the hearts and minds of men and women who today are reliving the agony, courage, and compassion of war service.

Help all of us to honour those who have made so great a sacrifice, yet save us from ever glorifying the evils of war. Enable us to be peacemakers. Guide Her Majesty the Queen and all her govern in her name so that peace may prevail. Hasten the great day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

This we pray in the name of the one who sacrificed his all for the sake of the world, who was faithful until death for us: Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Lord. Amen. (Adapted from Bruce Prewer (1988) Anzac Day Prayer in Australian Accents)

Often poppies are labelled with years – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017. How many more to go?

Most people will say ‘one more’ – 2018 will bring an end to the ‘war to end all wars’. We know this. The cenotaph behind me declares it. But the people back then didn’t know anything of the kind.

Endurance is holding on until the end and most of the time the end is known. The athlete, the student, the builder can go through tough times and succeed because they know when the race is won, the exam finished, the building opened. Endurance is important.

Faithfulness is endurance when the end is unknown. Soldiers were patched up back here and then sent back to the front. Families said ‘goodbye’ unsure of when or if they would see loved ones again but lived ready to welcome them home. Faithfulness is that quality of life that chooses each day to behave according to promises and commitments – to mates in the trenches, loved ones at an altar, to God and country.

We breathe relief – one more year to go – but today we pause and remember that they didn’t know that – and still people went to serve – overseas and at home. Today we remember the sacrifice of all – and the faithfulness that lay behind it back in 1917. GS