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A Reflection for Remembrance Day

I don’t know about you, but I have a terrible memory and often have to write things down.

I have lists everywhere, some on my laptop and bits of paper that seem to multiply.

If—like me—our memory isn’t great, you will walk upstairs and forget why you went there

But today, we are asked to remember a specific thing. Remembrance Day nowadays is not just to remember Grandads or Great-Grandads—but the young men and women who continue to make the ultimate sacrifice so recently in service of our country.

We are told we must remember. And if we do not, the sacrifice of those thousands who have given their lives in the past as well as the present will be meaningless. They died for us, for homes and families and friends, for a collection of cherished traditions and a future they believed in; they died for their country.

The meaning of their sacrifice rests with our collective national consciousness—our future is their monument, and how we live our lives today is because of what they gave up.

Yet for many of us, war is a phenomenon only seen through the lens of a television camera, on our computers or a journalist's account of fighting in distant parts of the world.

Our closest physical and emotional experience may be the discovery of wartime keepsakes in an attic. But even items such as photographs, medals, and diaries can seem vague and unconnected to their owner's life.

For those of us born during relative peacetime, all wars can seem far removed from our daily lives.

By remembering their service and sacrifice, we recognise the tradition of freedom these men and women fought and continue fighting to preserve. They believed that their actions would make a significant difference in the future.

But it is up to us to ensure that the dream of peace is realised.

On Remembrance Day, we acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who served their country, but our responsibility is to work for the peace that follows and is often much more challenging to achieve.

For all of these conflicts, there is much to remember. Foremost are the people, the men and women who served wherever they were needed. They faced difficult situations but were ordinary people who made and continue to make extraordinary sacrifices.

If we think about it, we can all think of someone we know who is connected with the armed services. I remember my great-grandfather and grandfather serving in the First and Second World Wars. My dad was in the RAF, and my friend’s son is in the army in Germany at present but has been in Iraq.

The sacrifice made by members of our Armed Forces and by their families is a remarkable one.

Of course, there is the Ultimate Sacrifice of the loss of life, but we must never forget that our servicemen and women are called to a life of sacrifice. Domestic Stability is sacrificed. Some service families have lived in up to 9 houses over 16 years. Time spent with family and friends is sacrificed. Service personnel are often not there at the birth of a child, a family celebration or illness. They miss so much of what goes on for those left behind. Their families often sacrifice secure long–term employment, and their children sacrifice continuous local education.

As a nation, we require our service personnel and their families to be people not just prepared to serve but to sacrifice. Their freedom is sacrificed as it always has been.

Most alive today have never experienced a worldwide conflict, have never experienced the sadness of seeing friends and family go off to war, have never experienced the anguish of receiving the news; “We regret to inform you…"

We read in John’s Gospel,

"Greater love has no one than this that they lay down their life for their friends." (John 15:13).

The act of remembering today is to recognise the sacrifices made by soldiers of our country, honouring the memory of those who have died so that others were able to dwell in freedom and peace.

We, too, are called to service and sacrifice in how we live if we call ourselves Christians. Thankfully, in this country, we do not have to lay down our lives for our beliefs as many across the world have done and continue to do, but we are called to listen to God and act on his instructions, follow his rules and obey his commands.

We are called to sacrifice by giving generously of our time, love, and all we have so that others may come to know God's love and the freedom He gives those following him. Living as Christ wants will bring us peace, and this is often the hardest to grasp, but in Him we can find peace, as it says in John 14:27,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.

Peace is hard to find in our troubled world, and serving God is not easy, but it is what we Christians are asked to do. It will involve sacrifice of our time, our money or our homes.

But if we give these things willingly to God, they will be taken and used to help those in need and to spread the truth that following God can bring the peace, hope and love that this world is so desperate for.

So today, with wars and rumours of wars around our world, peace is what we perhaps most desire, so let us work for that and seek to serve God to bring about as much peace as we can, to share God's love and bring hope to those who are suffering and struggling in their lives.

There is never a winner in a war, as both sides will suffer, and many will die to bring about peace. Today, we honour those who have died to allow us to live as we chose so that we can serve God. Today, we remember their sacrifices made for us.

Let us go out and make the sacrifices God requires of us as we serve him in our daily lives.

Almighty God, in whose service lies perfect freedom, teach us to obey you with loving hearts and steadfast wills through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


Adapted from a sermon preached by Sandy Walker at Hinton Court on Remebrance Sunday 2023.


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