Next weekend includes Armistice Day on the Saturday and then Remembrance Sunday. These are always poignant occasions but I anticipate them to be especially so this year.
The First World War has slipped out of living memory; those who served in World War II have mostly passed on; more recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan come into sharper focus. Yet the vital importance to remember – and the desire of many to do so – continues undiminished.
And so we will pause and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We also pray for peace. We long for the day when, as Isaiah says, ‘They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for way any more’.
We have almost got used to the war waged by Russia against Ukraine grinding on into stalemate. We recoil in horror at the shocking brutality and consequent suffering in Israel and Gaza. We despair that as a human race we seem unable to live peaceably with our neighbours. Remembrance seems especially poignant at this time.
A contemporary hymn by Marjorie Dobson sums up how I feel:
For the sound of war still thunders
through our planet, on this day.
Every hour new victims suffer,
even as we meet to pray.
God, we need your help and guidance
in our constant search for peace.
Move us on to new solutions
as we pray that wars may cease.
(Singing the Faith no. 131)
As you pause and remember, I hope you find that there are words that speak powerfully to you.