6 November 2020
Remembrance is one more thing that will be strange and different this year. While there will be a small national ceremony at the Cenotaph in London, there will be no march past. Because of the fresh lockdown we won’t be able to gather in church as we normally would, but will have to watch the livestream.
We may need to do our remembering differently, but we can still remember. And what are we remembering? This is what it says on the website of The Royal British Legion: “Every year the nation unites to make sure that no-one is forgotten and to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom.”
I realise that those from other nations may have a different perspective and that words such as “sacrificed” and “freedom” sound different. Yet I remain convinced that it is better to remember – I trust with sensitivity and care – than not to remember at all. We can remember with sadness all the lives that have been lost, along with the conflicts that lead to wars. We can remember with thanksgiving that, though this cannot be said of all wars, at least in the Second World War genuine evil was defeated. We can remember with hope that we will learn from the past so as not to make the same mistakes again.
And Christians are people who remember. Wasn’t it Jesus himself who, sharing bread and wine with his disciples at the Last Supper, told them to “do this in remembrance of me,” something which Christians have done ever since as they remember the death of Jesus? In that shared meal we remember the ultimate example of what Jesus said, in words often repeated on Remembrance Sunday: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Remembering, though, is not only about looking back, but also about looking ahead as we remember the promises God has made, promises which are yet to be fulfilled. Christians live between the two ‘appearings’ of Christ, looking back to when God’s salvation appeared in him, and looking ahead to when he appears a second time to “redeem us from all wickedness.” On that day, for those belong to Jesus, there will be no more death or war or hatred, but only life and peace and love.
“We will remember them.” Let us do that. And let’s make sure that we remember Him: what he has done and what he has said he will do.
Father, we remember with sorrow so many lives lost in war, even while we remember with thanksgiving and hope your Son laying down his life, that we might know life and peace and love. Amen.
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister)